When older adults live in congregate settings, they may be at a high risk of being affected by viruses including COVID. The CDC recommends a strong infection prevention and control program to protect both residents and healthcare workers. The CDC states that training should be conducted to prevent the spread of COVID. Healthcare workers should learn which places in the healthcare environment are reservoirs for germs, how germs can spread from those places, and what processes can be put in place to control infection.
According to a recent news article, after a nursing home became infected with the COVID-19 virus, a facility failed to provide any of the doctor-prescribed treatments for the virus. As a result, an Iowa nursing home resident died of COVID-19 in March. Four weeks after being admitted to the nursing home, a resident tested positive for COVID-19, but the resident’s physician was not notified. Three days later, the resident’s oxygen saturation levels dipped to 86 percent, and the resident’s doctor then became aware of the COVID-19 diagnosis and ordered an antibiotic, a steroid medication, and other drugs, in addition to ordering that the resident be given oxygen, a chest x-ray, a laboratory test to detect anemia or infection, a blood test, and a test to check for blood clots. Within 19 hours, none of the treatments or tests had been conducted, and the resident died due to COVID-related pneumonia. An investigation revealed that the physician’s orders were only entered into the computer after the resident had passed away.
What Were the Nursing Home's Responsibilities to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19?
A review of the nursing home’s logs showed that the facility failed to routinely test their employees for COVID-19, as the site required weekly testing. The administration of the home admitted to only taking the staff’s word that they were being tested as required, failing to follow up to verify the claims. The patient who died from COVID was diabetic, but the home had failed to comply with physician orders regarding blood-sugar levels on 53 occasions in March, in addition to the resident not receiving various physician-ordered medications on 24 occasions in February. The physician was not notified of any of those failures. Furthermore, there was at least one incident involving alleged abuse of a patient at the nursing home, formal grievances about the staff’s response to call lights, and reports of flies in the facility. This was in addition to the nursing home being cited for failing to serve palatable food to residents. In total, the home was cited for violating 21 federal standards of care and two state standards of care. The state fined the nursing home $19,250, which will be reduced by 35 percent if the owner chooses not to appeal the penalty.