COVID-19 Lawsuits Against Wisconsin Nursing Homes

Posted by PKSD Law Firm on May 29, 2020 in Nursing Homes and Elder Rights

empty room nursing homeNursing homes across the country continue to be devastated by COVID-19. As of the end of May 2020, more than 16,000 nursing home residents and health care professionals in the U.S. infected with this virus have died. Healthcare workers across the country have exhibited heroism in their efforts to care for patients throughout the pandemic, continuously putting themselves at risk, However, what if your loved one is given the wrong medication, or develops bedsores from not being turned regularly or is dropped by a careless staff member?

If your loved one contracted COVID-19 and suffered serious permanent physical injuries or even death due to the gross negligence or willful misconduct of another, you may have grounds to pursue compensation for your damages against the responsible party.

Nursing Home Responsibility

Nursing homes owe residents a duty of care to take reasonable precautions to prevent an outbreak of any infectious disease. In the event of a pandemic, such as the coronavirus, these institutions and caregivers are also required to respond quickly and adhere to additional guidance and directives issued by various public health authorities, such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Protocols recommended by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services to help limit the spread of the virus to both patients and staff include:

  • Regular, daily screening of staff, patients and visitors
  • Cancelling all group activities
  • Closing all common areas
  • Isolating and quarantining infected patients
  • Enforcing a strict policy for staff who are sick or test positive to stay home
  • Implementing, training and enforcing increased handwashing protocols
  • Ensuring sufficient supply of personal protective equipment for staff (PPE)
  • Maintaining adequate supplies of alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Properly disinfecting all common areas

In addition to these and other important protocols, nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are also required to regularly communicate with families and to help facilitate ways for families to keep in touch with their loved ones during a quarantine.

State and Federal Immunity Laws That Apply

Many states, including Wisconsin, have recently passed a new law that gives immunity to healthcare providers and healthcare professionals from civil liability resulting from the pandemic. Amongst those protected in Michigan’s new statute, sec. 895.4801 are:

  • Physicians
  • Nursing staff
  • Nursing homes
  • Assisted living facilities
  • Hospitals
  • Physician’s assistants
  • Physical and occupational therapists
  • And more

This immunity law was originally implemented because of the overwhelming burden to hospitals and healthcare professionals created by this unprecedented pandemic. However, at the last minute, the wording of the law was appended to remove any reference of COVID-19 or the “2019 novel coronavirus” that was mentioned several times in the original bill. Now, families are worried that it removed all accountability for acts of negligence committed during the pandemic.

PKSD Law and others in the legal community are also concerned that some will now attempt to use this bill as a “carte blanche” protection against any civil liability for care provided going forward, as opposed to limiting liability for care that relates to, and is performed during, the pandemic.

Protection Not Provided Under New Immunity Laws

Although there is no longer a specific reference to COVID-19 in Wisconsin’s new immunity law, it does state that it is in effect from the date a state of emergency was declared by Governor Evers in March 2020 to 60 days from the date the emergency is declared at an end.

The protection applies to services and care that are not only provided in good faith, but also those which are in accordance with emergency guidelines issued by the local, state and federal government officials. However, there is no protection for gross negligence or willful or reckless misconduct.

How our Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers May Help

At PKSD Law, we are prepared to provide legal assistance to those who lost a loved one in a nursing home or other healthcare facility as a result of COVID-19. Our knowledgeable Wisconsin nursing home abuse lawyers offer a no-obligation legal consultation, at no cost to you, to discuss whether you may have grounds to pursue compensation for your loved one’s damages.

Our firm is available to take your call anytime, day or night. If we take your case, there are no fees for our services unless we achieve a recovery on your behalf.

Contact PKSD Law today. No upfront fees. Free consultation. Ph: 877-877-2228

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