COVID-19 Update: How We Are Serving and Protecting Our Clients

Failure to Change Equipment Requirements During COVID-19

Chicago Lawyers Representing Residents Harmed by Nursing Home Negligence

Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities present a greater risk of COVID-19 transmission because the residents congregate there together. Additionally, nursing home residents are especially vulnerable to severe cases of COVID-19 because they are older and are more likely to have underlying health conditions. Among other things, nursing homes should take care to change their equipment requirements during the pandemic. If you were harmed by a nursing home’s failure to change equipment requirements during COVID-19, you should consult a seasoned Chicago nursing home negligence attorney.

Failure to Change Equipment Requirements During COVID-19

Illinois nursing homes are regulated by both federal and state agencies, including the Illinois Department of Public Health, which is responsible for verifying nursing home compliance with mandatory state regulations. Under a cooperative agreement with the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the Department checks that the nursing homes accepting Medicaid or Medicare payment for services given to program beneficiaries meet federal regulations.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, personal protective equipment (PPE) can shield both nursing home staff and patients from the aerial transmission of the coronavirus. Nursing home staff should wear PPE, including a face mask, gown, gloves and eye protection. The CDC has issued recommendations to help health care facilities, including nursing homes, plan and optimize the use of PPE in response to the pandemic. However, some nursing homes may not have distributed sufficient quantities of PPE, including masks, or updated their equipment requirements to conform to guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If a nursing home has failed to change its equipment requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic and residents are harmed as a result, you should speak with a lawyer to see if you may recover damages through a nursing home negligence lawsuit.

Nursing Home Negligence

Under normal conditions, you may recover damages for nursing home negligence or abuse by proving negligence or medical malpractice. Recently, executive orders issued by the governor have granted immunity to nursing facilities and assisted living facilities so long as they are rendering assistance in response to COVID-19 and following guidance. This immunity requires a plaintiff to establish gross negligence or willful misconduct by a nursing home that is rendering assistance and taking the steps involved with rendering assistance in order to recover damages for injuries. Rendering assistance is defined as conducting widespread coronavirus testing of staff and residents, accepting COVID-19 patients for transfer, and preserving PPE. If a nursing home was not taking steps to render assistance to the coronavirus response, an ordinary nursing home negligence case can be established to recover damages.

However, if a nursing home is taking all steps to render assistance, and yet fails to change equipment requirements during COVID-19, thereby causing you harm, you will need to show that the facility exhibited gross negligence or willful misconduct. Gross negligence is a difficult standard for plaintiffs to meet. Whether or not a court will find a failure to change equipment requirements during COVID-19 to be grossly negligent is untested. However, since gross negligence involves actions that show utter indifference to or conscious disregard for another’s safety, its failure to require PPE usage during COVID-19 may be construed as conscious disregard for the safety of both patients and staff.

Damages

If you are able to establish liability in a nursing home negligence case, you may be able to recover compensatory damages for your injuries. These can include economic and noneconomic losses such as medical bills, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment, and mental anguish. In cases of egregious misconduct, it may be possible to recover punitive damages; these are damages meant to deter and punish future similar misconduct.

Retain an Experienced Attorney in Chicago

If you were harmed by a Chicago nursing home’s failure to change equipment requirements, you should discuss what happened with the seasoned lawyers of Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca. We represent nursing home residents and their families in Aurora, Quincy, Champaign, and Rockford, along with Winnebago, Cook, Adams, Sangamon, and Kane Counties. Call us at 800-444-1525 or 312-263-6330 or complete our online form.