Nursing home abuse

Healthcare Provider Liability During COVID-19

May 28, 2020 by James McHugh, Jr.
Insurance claim paperwork

We have heard over and over again since the current pandemic has taken the world by storm that we are living in unprecedented times, and that we must learn how to best navigate a new normal that includes mask-wearing and other such precautions. Under current law, healthcare providers, medical facilities, long-term care facilities, and nursing homes can be held liable as defendants in medical negligence civil suits; but, will injured parties be able to sue them due to issues related to the Coronavirus?

Blanket Immunity

Essentially, facilities with vulnerable populations – including long-term care facilities and nursing home – want blanket immunity from civil lawsuits due to the coronavirus crisis. Global teams of medical professionals have struggled to develop an effective vaccine for the highly contagious virus. Care facilities pushing for blanket immunity may be doing so not to protect the medical and healthcare professions that have provided care to patients, but rather to shield themselves from liability for negligence and substandard practices.

Poor Care Prior to Coronavirus

Unfortunately, it was widely understood nursing homes and long-term care facilities were failing to provide residents and patients with proper care before the current public health crisis. Additionally, while more than 10,000 nursing home residents have lost their lives to COVID-19, the infection was exasperated due to unsanitary conditions at such facilities. The highly infectious virus may also severely impact the already vulnerable elderly due to weakened immune systems resulting from receiving inadequate and subpar care from such facilities.

In many emergency rooms and hospitals across the country, patients were forced to lay in gurneys lined in hallways, as well as deal with extremely excessive wait times, makeshift medical tents and rooms due to healthcare facilities being at capacity, as well as a lack of medical professionals available to administer care. Prior to the coronavirus, in communities, both rural and urban, an already present lack of access to healthcare as well as healthcare professionals was largely due to providers and facilities deeming certain areas low-profiting, leading to facilities being closed or acquired and a decline in maintenance and available services. The reality is that many of the groups found susceptible to coronavirus were already experiencing a disproportionate reality. Many individuals and families that now find themselves victims of the Coronavirus may have already been struggling to get their loved ones’ basic needs met. In many communities, regular visits to the doctor and/or easy access to a healthcare center is unlikely.

The coronavirus pandemic has surely caused us all to pause and rethink what we perceived as “normal” before our world came screeching to a halt. Part of doing so is addressing the failures in previous modes of operation that incubated and exacerbated a healthcare crisis such as the Coronavirus pandemic. Many care facilities fearing retaliation from those who have lost a loved one should accept responsibility for their actions that led to the deaths of residents and/or patients. Given the commonality of patient health issues acquired from subpar care received in nursing home facilities, many victims were less equipped to fight the virus once it was compounded by the conditions of the current crisis. Blanket immunity for healthcare providers, long-term care facilities, and nursing homes will absolve providers of responsibility for patient health and quality of care. If such immunity is allowed, it will set a dangerous precedent for future health crises.

Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Attorneys

Regardless of the situation or health crisis, it is stressful and scary anytime a loved one falls ill and requires medical care. Victims of medical malpractice understand the pain and anger that follow losing a loved one due to preventable, negligent actions undertaken by a healthcare facility and/or provider. While the world is experiencing a crisis unlike anything we have experienced before, healthcare providers still have a duty to residents and patients to provide quality care. If a loved one was affected by the coronavirus and you believe medical malpractice may have been an issue, please contact us today.


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