Could Maryland Be Undercounting Its Reports of Nursing Home COVID-19 Deaths?

Maryland residents who have loved ones in nursing homes have likely been particularly worried about their loved ones’ health, as well as nursing home abuse and neglect, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the large numbers of people living in one area and the relative vulnerability of those living in nursing homes, it is perhaps not a surprise that the facilities have been hit particularly hard by COVID-19. Outbreaks have spread through nursing homes at alarming rates, and there are concerns that they have potentially been fueled by negligent staffing, medical neglect, and lack of proper sanitation procedures. Additionally, there have been high death rates of individuals living in nursing homes, with recent news revealing that those rates may have been undercounted.

Last month, New York State Attorney General Letitia James released a new report based on an investigation into nursing home policies that caused abuse and neglect and threatened the lives of residents and staff alike. One of the key findings in this report was that the number of nursing home deaths tied to COVID-19 has been undercounted by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration by as much as fifty percent.

Why Are Nursing Home COVID Deaths Underreported?

Part of the problem that seems related to the fact that the state only counted residents who died on nursing home property, rather than including those who were transferred to a hospital. But the new report indicates that many deaths occurred in hospitals once residents caught COVID-19 in their nursing homes and were then transferred. For example, one facility reported five confirmed and six presumed COVID-19 deaths to the state’s Department of Health. But the same facility reported a total of 27 COVID-19 deaths at the facility itself and another 13 deaths in hospitals. Discrepancies like this were found in multiple nursing homes.

The investigation also revealed that nursing homes generally were not complying with COVID-19 infection control protocols—some were not isolating residents who had tested positive, for example, or screening staff for the virus.

The concerns raised by the New York Attorney General’s report are not isolated to New York, but similar issues may very well be happening in other states. Maryland’s nursing homes have been hit hard by the pandemic, perhaps even harder than reported numbers suggest due to undercounting. Maryland residents with loved ones in nursing homes should keep an eye out for abuse, neglect, and general negligence regarding COVID-19 safety protocols. And if their loved one is injured (or dies) from suspected abuse or neglect, families should contact a Maryland nursing home abuse and neglect attorney right away.

Speak with a Maryland Nursing Home Attorney Right Away

If you’re dealing with a case of suspected or confirmed nursing home or abuse in your loved one’s nursing home, reach out to the Maryland nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen today. We know you will want to know what your legal rights and options are, so we are offering free, virtual consultations all prospective clients. Call us today to schedule yours: 800-654-1949. Or, fill out our online form.

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