Nursing Home Malpractice

Infection prevention, control and management are ongoing problems in nursing homes and long-term care facilities in New Jersey.

It is not surprising, then, that nursing homes are reportedly struggling to contain the Covid-19 virus. [1]

Nearly every nursing home in the state has reported at least one case of the virus at their facility, and it has been confirmed in 90% of those facilities.[2]

After an anonymous tip was made, 17 bodies were found at one of New Jersey’s largest nursing homes - Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center I and II in Sussex County. [3] The 17 bodies were among 68 recent deaths reported to be linked to the long-term care facility. [4] Of those who died, 26 tested positive for the virus.[5]

Across the state of New Jersey there are approximately 60,000 residents in long term care facilities, and about 10% of them are now ill from the Covid-19 virus, according to numbers released by State Health Commissioner. [6] Over the last several years, studies have found infection control management in nursing homes is suboptimal because of misuse of antibiotics and poor infection prevention protocols. [7] 

About 40% of nursing homes in the United States receive deficiency citations each year related to infection protocol and treatment.[8] In 2016, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) adopted a rule that required substantial changes, including developing infection control programs and hiring a trained infection preventionist.[9] However, with the recent outbreak and rampant spread of Covid-19, the efforts of nursing homes to prevent and control infection have proven inadequate. [10]

Residents in nursing homes and long-term care facilities are particularly susceptible to infections due to their compromised immune systems and risk of skin breakdown, reliance on medical devices such as catheters, malnutrition, dehydration, and immobility.

Effectively preventing, diagnosing, and managing infections in nursing homes is difficult for multiple reasons and must be made a priority. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists 7 core elements of antibiotic stewardship for hospitals and nursing homes, including: commitment to leadership, pharmacy expertise, action, accountability, tracking and reporting of data, and education.[11]

New Jersey Health Officers and Health Care workers are clearly unsung heroes risking their health to care for a particularly vulnerable part of our population. Yet, the ability of these heroes to help others and to keep themselves stay safe is limited by the facilities they work for, the resources and protective equipment available, the infection protocols, and the policies and procedures in place.

Historically, nursing home infection prevention and control programs are inadequately staffed, have less personnel than hospitals, staff turnover is high, and those in charge of the infection control programs have multiple responsibilities.[12] Furthermore, physicians, nurse practitioners, or other advanced practice clinicians may not be available at all times to help with infection management decisions.[13]

An Executive Order by Gov. Murphy makes health care facilities and physicians immune from liability related to Covid-19, except in situations where “gross negligence” has been demonstrated.[14] However, it is unclear how far reaching this immunity will be in practice because the executive order has yet to be tested in the courts.

Should you suspect medical or nursing home malpractice you should contact an attorney immediately. Attorney Attorneys at O’Connor Parsons Lane & Noble have vast experience representing victims of preventable infection at nursing homes and health care facilities.  William R. Lane, Esq. recently secured a settlement for $925,000 against health care providers that allegedly failed to follow proper infection prevention protocols which resulted in the severe infection of several of patients.

If you or a loved one believe you are victims of medical negligence or abuse, contact the attorneys at O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble for a free consultation today.

[3] Id.
[4] Id.
[5] Id.
[6] Id.
[7] Nursing Home Infection Control Program Characteristics, CMS Citations, and Implementation of Antibiotic Stewardship Policies: A National Study Patricia W. Stone, PhD, RN,1 Carolyn T. A. Herzig, PhD, MS,1 Mansi Agarwal, PhD, MPH,1 Monika Pogorzelska-Maziarz, PhD, MPH,2 and Andrew W. Dick, PhD
[8] Id.
[9] Id.
[10] See, footnote 1.
[11] See, footnote 7.
[12] See, footnote 7.
[13] See, footnote 7.

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