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

Failure to Implement Sufficient Sanitation Requirements During COVID-19

Chicago Lawyers Helping Nursing Home Negligence Victims

Sanitation is especially important in elder care facilities. Because elderly people have weaker immune systems, they are more susceptible to catching illnesses and are less able to fight them off. If the failure to implement sufficient sanitation requirements during COVID-19 has impacted you or a family member, call the Chicago nursing home neglience attorneys of Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca for a consultation.

Nursing Home Negligence

Both state and federal agencies regulate and license Illinois nursing homes. The federal Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 provides that any nursing home that participates in Medicare or Medicaid must comply with specific rules and regulations. Among these rules is that nursing homes must provide good hygiene for anyone who can’t perform that duty for himself or herself.

Under the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act, residents are entitled to be free from neglect or abuse. Poor sanitation may violate this right. With compromised immune systems, the elderly can be impacted by the spread of germs and bacteria due to a nursing home’s failure to implement sufficient sanitation requirements.

Immunity

Ordinarily, a resident can recover damages from their nursing home in a negligence or medical malpractice lawsuit. However, recent executive orders in Illinois have immunized health care facilities and professionals, including skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, and supported living facilities, that render assistance as part of the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic by increasing the number of beds, preserving personal protective equipment, and treating patients with COVID-19. There is no immunity, however, for acts that constitute gross negligence or willful misconduct.  

It may be possible to hold a nursing home liable if you can show that it was not rendering assistance as part of the states’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Where a nursing home is not following the guidelines in connection with rendering assistance, it will not have immunity from a nursing home negligence lawsuit. However, if it was rendering assistance at the time of the failure to implement sanitation requirements, you would need to show gross negligence or willful misconduct in the failure to implement enough sanitation. An experienced lawyer will understand how to obtain the records needed to establish whether the nursing home qualifies for immunity, and whether it acted with gross negligence or willful misconduct.

When Is a Failure to Implement Sufficient Sanitation Gross Negligence?

Gross negligence and willful misconduct are high standards, and it is not certain under what circumstances a court will find that a failure to implement sufficient sanitation requirements during COVID-19 meets these standards. Generally, gross negligence involves a course of action that displays utter indifference to or conscious disregard for your own safety and the safety of others. For example, if a nursing home does not assist residents with their personal hygiene over a period of weeks, this may be considered gross negligence if a patient becomes gravely ill due to the resulting increase in germs.

In Illinois, willful acts are those in which someone intends to inflict injury or damage. For example, if a nursing home intentionally fails to help a resident keep up with personal hygiene and room cleanliness in order to penalize the resident for not complying with staff directives, the court may view this as a willful act for which the nursing home may be held responsible.

Wanton acts are those in which a nursing home exhibits a conscious indifference as to whether their residents will be injured. For example, if the nursing home administrators are notified that a resident has developed COVID-19, but failed implement safety measures to avoid transmission to other residents, such as by quarantining the resident, disinfecting the surfaces of the nursing home and providing personal protective equipment to staff and residents because these measures would be very expensive, this may be interpreted as a wanton act.

Consult a Seasoned Attorney in Chicago

One of the most common reasons Chicago nursing home residents file suit against nursing homes is to avoid harm caused by improper hygiene. If you or a loved one were infected by the coronavirus at a nursing home due to the failure to implement sufficient sanitation requirements during COVID-19, please discuss your situation with our lawyers at Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca. We represent nursing home residents in Quincy, Rockford, Aurora, and Champaign, along with Cook, Adams, Winnebago, Kane, and Sangamon Counties. Contact us at 312-263-6330 or 800-444-1525 or complete our online form.