Amid the coronavirus pandemic, New York Executive Order 202.10 has granted nursing homes and other healthcare providers protection from civil and criminal liability, so long as they make some effort to respond to the Covid-19 outbreak. The Executive Order may seem like a good idea in protecting nursing homes during an unforeseen event like this; however, it will likely create more victims of nursing home negligence as it disincentivizes long-term care facilities to provide an adequate level of care to their residents. Further, friends and family – who often act as witnesses in malpractice claims – are now prohibited from visiting their loved ones, raising concerns regarding the quality of care that elderly patients will receive during this deadly outbreak.
Negligence within nursing homes occurs when healthcare workers violate basic protocols and procedures that are meant to provide the elderly with a reasonable standard of care. A lack of accountability within nursing homes will make it even more difficult to prove misconduct and negligence and will restrict the legal rights of our most vulnerable population. Namely, the Executive Order will give nursing home administrators less incentive to provide an adequate level of care – especially during a time when one out of every five coronavirus deaths occur in a nursing home, and when protective equipment, in addition to workers, is expensive and in high demand. Administrators can knowingly cut corners to save money and remain protected by New York State law so long as they say in good faith that they are doing everything they can to protect their patients.
Despite Executive Order 202.10, claims can still be made against nursing homes who mistreat their patients and fail to provide an adequate level of care. However, the Executive Order limits the responsibility of nursing Homes to provide other essential services to patients and enables them to use the Covid-19 pandemic as a legal defense; it raises the already high “bar” in proving negligence. Further, nursing homes with a history of abuse and neglect can use the Covid-19 outbreak as a legal defense in claims occurring while this temporary law is in place. Claims can be made in certain situations when
- Negligence that has taken place prior to the implementation of the Executive Order.
- Nursing homes fail to clean their equipment adequately.
- Workers fail to follow proper hygiene like washing their hands between patients.
- Nursing homes fail to separate sick patients who display known coronavirus symptoms.
- Overcrowding certain areas of nursing homes.
- Allowing sick workers to continue caring for elderly patients.
- Nursing homes with a history of infection control violations.
If you or a loved one have experienced any form of misconduct or negligence within nursing homes, you should contact an experienced attorney to learn more about your rights; these newly implemented protections do not necessarily provide nursing homes with complete immunity. Our lawyers at Halperin & Halperin P.C. will provide you with a free consultation to determine whether or not you have a claim, and can guide you through the complex legal process. Our experienced malpractice attorneys have proven results in securing settlements and verdicts in cases related to nursing home negligence.