After the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many families were prevented from visiting their loved ones living in Maryland nursing homes. Visits often serve as a time when families can spend time with their loved ones, and also observe their loved one’s condition in-person. Some advocates claim that there has been a surge in reports of neglect among nursing home residents. Federal data reflects that almost 30 percent of nursing homes report staff shortages now across the United States. Nineteen percent of nursing homes in Maryland report a shortage of nurses and/or aides.
Federal regulations established through the creation of Medicare and Medicaid allow federal oversight of many nursing homes. Even before the pandemic, in surveys conducted from January 2019 through March 2020, 39% of facilities had incidents with suspected or alleged reports of abuse, neglect, or misappropriation of property. Yet, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) actually suspended survey activities last March except in some circumstances. More recent guidance allows for survey activities to resume if the state has progressed in its reopening plan or at the state’s discretion. Nursing homes have a responsibility to care for their residents, keep residents safe from harm, and prevent abuse and neglect. Claims can be filed against facilities in cases where nursing homes or staff members have abused or neglected a resident.
Local Group Calls for Reform of Nursing Homes
COVID-19 has highlighted issues of abuse and neglect in many nursing homes, which were present long before the pandemic began. According to a recent report, a local organization based in Virginia, Justice and Change for Victims of Nursing Facilities, is one organization that is calling lawmakers in the state and facility operators to enact reforms.
One member, whose mother died in 2020, said her mother had bedsores that went down to the bone. Another member remembered when her mother sitting in her own filth at a nursing facility, and who would call her crying. Her mother told her that the nurse attending to her said she did not know how to change the bag. Another member’s father was at a nursing facility where he died after he vomited stool but was never transported for additional care. In that case, the facility admitted it did not follow protocol, and the facility received a citation from state investigators. The group said that despite inspections and violations, there is no real change. The group wants increased staffing levels, more oversight, and better training.
Can Residents of Their Families Sue a Negligent Nursing Home for Covid-Related Reasons?
The short answer to this is, it depends. In some situations, nursing homes have immunity from lawsuits filed by residents or their family members. However, that is not the case in every situation. An experienced Maryland nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer can help families determine if they can bring a claim against a nursing home following a Covid-19-related death.
Has Your Loved One Suffered from Abuse or Neglect?
Nursing home residents are entitled to and deserve proper care. If you have a loved one who you believe has suffered from abuse or neglect at a nursing home, contact a Maryland nursing home lawyer to discuss your claim. Because other residents may be at risk, it is important you take action as soon as possible. The lawyers at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC have more than two decades of experience representing victims throughout Maryland and Washington, D.C. For a free consultation, contact Lebowitz & Mzhen at 1-800-654-1949 or fill out their online form.