How COVID-19 Has Impacted the Number of Nursing Home Deaths Due to Neglect

Posted on behalf of Jeff Pitman on November 23, 2020 in Nursing Home Abuse
Updated on April 24, 2024

elderly man alone at windowThe spread of COVID-19 since the virus first reached U.S. shores has been astronomical, but nursing homes have remained the hardest hit. However, it is not the virus alone that has led to an unprecedented wave of deaths among long-term care residents.

PKSD shares a recent news update about the reports of care in nursing homes throughout the country. Residents are dying not only from COVID-19, but also from dehydration, malnutrition and other illnesses and injuries brought on by gross neglect.

Excess Deaths Due to COVID-19

According to a recent AP news report, more than 90,000 nursing home residents have died from the coronavirus. However, those advocating for the elderly say that an even more shocking reality is that tens of thousands of nursing home residents are dying because facilities are unable to provide proper care.

Amidst already dire circumstances due to the pandemic, floods of notices have been sent regarding the substandard care of nursing home residents across the country. This vulnerable population, many of whom heavily rely on daily care for their well-being, are being grossly neglected and suffering from multiple issues that include:

  • Bedsores so bad they cut to the bone
  • Being left to sit in dirty, soiled diapers long enough to cause infection and skin lesions
  • Dehydration
  • Malnutrition
  • Untreated infections
  • And more

One of these nursing home residents, a retired truck driver, was very healthy before the COVID-19 outbreak. Amid the pandemic, however, the 75-year-old father from Alabama – who did not become ill with the virus – reportedly dropped to a mere 98 pounds after becoming severely dehydrated and malnourished. Donald Wallace was described by his son as looking like someone who had been in a concentration camp. Wallace suffered from septic shock, which may have been caused by an untreated urinary tract infection, and there was evidence of E. coli in his body, likely due to poor hygiene. Wallace also suffered from aspiration pneumonia, which may have been due to choking on his food and no one being there to help him with his meals. His son, Kevin, believes that he was just abandoned by the facility’s caregivers.

Staff Unable to Keep Up

In an industry that has historically struggled to maintain appropriate levels of staffing, the pandemic has only further hindered those ratios. Caregivers are stretched to the limit and grossly underpaid in many cases. The population most hurt by this reality are long-term care residents, many of whom already have underlying health conditions and require daily care.

One nursing home expert analyzed data from 15,000 facilities across the U.S. The outcome of this study revealed that for every two residents who succumbed to the virus, there was, on average, a premature, “excess death” due to other causes. According to the report, the total of these excess deaths since March 2020 could end up being as high as 40,000 or more, approximately 15 percent higher than the expected average in a normal year.

What this data suggests is that residents who did not become ill from COVID-19 received substandard care while the understaffed caregivers focused their energies on caring for those infected with the virus. Federal data backs up understaffing issues, showing that nearly one in four nursing homes in states where COVID-19 is now surging, are operating with staffing shortages.

Families Unable to Visit

Due to the necessary rules that have prevented in-person visitations, except in end-of-life situations, it has been difficult for families to fully monitor their loved one’s well-being and daily care. Many have been shocked at the stark reality. One woman said, “My mom went from being unbelievably cared for to dead in three weeks.”

The AP news article cites multiple stories like this one, which are, unfortunately, just the tip of the iceberg.

Our Trusted Lawyers are Prepared to Help

When you place your loved one in a nursing home facility, you are trusting that he or she will be well-cared for in their final years. If a facility betrays that trust and worse still, the duty of care they owe to your loved one – and to his or her family members, it can be hard to know what to do.

At PKSD Law, we are ready to review the details of the injury your loved one suffered to determine whether there may be grounds for a legal case against the nursing home facility or one or more caregivers. We have extensive experience handling lawsuits due to nursing home gross negligence and abuse, and we are prepared to fight for maximum compensation on your loved one’s behalf.

There are zero costs for the initial consultation, and there is no obligation to move forward with a claim. If we take your case, there are no upfront costs or attorney fees until your case concludes. Our firm does not get paid until you do.

PKSD Law. Trusted legal help on your side. 414-333-3333

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