Reasonable precautionary measures.
South Carolina’s first COVID-19 related death occurred at a Lexington County extended care nursing home facility, resulting in stricter measures for screening and limited visitations for people coming to the facility and across the state. Nursing homes are a perfect setting for communicable diseases such as COVID-19 to spread through the at-risk population who live in close quarters sharing sources of food, water, air, medical staff and equipment. The mechanisms of spread for COVID-19 are favorable when respiratory droplets, forced into the air by sick individuals through a sneeze or cough, are passed on through close contact between people. If someone died at a long term care facility because they were not isolated from sick individuals, some degree of responsibility may fall onto the health care providers. Seeking consultation with an experienced attorney about the case is advised.
South Carolina duty of care.
South Carolina nursing home facilities have standard operating procedures requiring administrative personnel to take action to isolate sick residents in residential facilities to control disease spread. In accordance with South Carolina Nursing Home Laws (S.C. Code Section 44-7-260), “An infection isolation room shall be made available if ordered by the attending physician for a resident who has a communicable disease that poses a threat to the health or safety of other residents, or who for some other reason requires isolation and only to the extent that is required to protect the resident and others.” and “Should it be determined that the facility is unable to care for the resident to the degree which assures the health and safety of the resident and the other residents of the facility, the resident shall be relocated to a facility that can meet his or her needs.” Nursing home abuse covers acts of negligence that cause, or exacerbate existing health conditions or place residents in danger.
Because older patients have fallen prey to COVID-19 compared to younger individuals, those over 60 years of age, or who have chronic underlying medical conditions should be monitored closely and facilities should engage in isolation precaution practices utilized for respiratory infections such as influenza. Deviations from facility cleanliness, staff hygiene and administrative infectious disease protocols could place a resident at risk and may be considered acts of unintentional negligence.
Statute of limitations.
The statute of limitations for wrongful death claims in South Carolina is three years from the date of the decedent’s death, but in certain medical malpractice cases it could extend as long as six years, with reasonable support that a defendant’s negligence or intentional action played a role in causing a death.
Seek legal counsel.
Contact an experienced attorney at the Louthian Law Firm in South Carolina if you, or a loved one suffered injury, or death caused by unsafe nursing home practices, inadequate precautions and sustained exposure to other sick long-term care residents to discuss your case.
Louthian Law Firm, P.A.
1116 Blanding St # 3A
Columbia, SC 29201
Local: (803) 454-1200
Toll free: (888) 303-1209