In Texas, approximately 13% of the state’s 1,222 nursing homes have at least one case of the new coronavirus. Texas Health and Human Services Commission officials reported 38 nursing home residents and staff members have died of COVID-19 statewide. Nursing home administrators must take reasonable measures to ensure caregivers follow updated state protocols to protect residents in long-term residential health care facilities. Nursing home abuse covers acts of negligence that cause, or exacerbate existing health conditions or place residents in danger.
A doctor at one of the nursing homes tried to use the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine on dozens of elderly patients diagnosed with COVID-19, stating he was tracking the outcomes in an “observational study,” which is less than ethical and breaks laws related to human studies protocols. Dr. Robin Armstrong who is the medical director at The Resort at Texas City made a controversial decision to administer hydroxychloroquine to residents and admitted some families were not aware that relatives were put on the drug, stating that he consulted with most residents prior to giving them the tablets. This action could easily open the facility up to litigation if outcomes caused injury or death of a resident.
Reasonable precautionary measures.
Nursing home and assisted living facilities must provide a level of care based on current medical and nursing home care industry standards for all residents and patients. If an injury, or death related to COVID-19 occurs at a nursing home under the supervision of health care professionals, who are not diligent about isolation precautions, the nursing home, or assisted living facility may be legally responsible. Contact an experienced attorney who can review the case based on the events that lead to the injury or death.
Patients over the age of 60 and those with chronic medical conditions are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and facilities should engage in the isolation precaution practices they have 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 Texas is two years from the date of the decedent’s death, with reasonable support that a defendant’s negligence or intentional action played a role in causing a death.
Seek legal counsel.
Contact a personal injury attorney in Texas if you, or a loved one suffered injury, or death caused by unsafe practices, inadequate precautions and sustained exposure to other sick long-term care residents to discuss your case.