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Nursing Homes and COVID-19

How COVID-19 Has Impacted Nursing Home Inspections

Various safeguards prevent the danger of nursing home abuse, including adequate staffing and routine inspections. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic is likely to have a substantial negative impact on nursing homes. For one, the coronavirus epidemic is currently pausing inspections performed by State Survey Agencies.

The most recent Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services guidance for nursing homes will result in a decrease in regular inspections due to COVID-19. Rather than routinely examine nursing homes, inspections are only performed when Immediate Jeopardy exists.

COVID-19 Nursing Home Cases in Ohio

Ohio is just one of several states that have already reported coronavirus outbreaks at nursing homes. One example occurred at the end of March 2020 when 31 people who lived, worked, or visited a nursing home in Troy came down with COVID-19 symptoms, and one person died as a result of the condition. While COVID-19 is a deadly disease, the virus is particularly deadly in nursing homes where elderly people are in a group setting and diseases can run rampant. Additionally, many times nursing home occupants are not in the best health possible.

While the exact result of these nursing home COVID-19 outbreaks is still uncertain, it is likely that inadequate staffing, poor living conditions, or other types of nursing home abuse have the potential to increase the ease with which the disease spreads among nursing home occupants. The best nursing homes are currently taking precautionary measures to make sure that patients with any COVID-19 symptoms are sufficiently separated from other nursing home residents.

What Constitutes Immediate Jeopardy

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services defines Immediate Jeopardy as any situation in which noncompliance has resulted in a risk of serious injury, serious harm, serious impairment, or fatalities. These situations must be promptly identified by inspectors, identified, investigated, and resolved with exigency. Immediate Jeopardy is the most serious type of category and results in substantial sanctions for medical providers, supplies, or laboratories. If an active COVID-19 is located during an Immediate Jeopardy situation, inspectors are requested to report the case to their agency, state health department, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

What the Three-Week Prioritization Period Means

On March 20, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services commenced a three-week prioritization period. During this time, the agency is prioritizing only several types of surveys, which include:

  • Complaints and incidents that are classified as Immediate Jeopardy
  • Targeted Infection Control Surveys of providers located through collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
  • Initial certification to increase the country’s health capacity

Surveys that fall into one of these categories will only be performed if inspectors have access to personal protective equipment.

Speak with an Experienced Nursing Home Abuse Attorney

If your loved one has experienced a serious injury or disease like COVID-19 due to neglect or abuse in a nursing home, remember that you have the right to pursue compensation. Contact Dworken & Bernstein today to obtain the assistance of an experienced attorney who will fight for the results you deserve.

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