Although the COVID-19 pandemic may seem like the first time that long-term care facilities have had trouble with infection control among our nation’s 1.4 million nursing home residents, facilities have had problems with disease spread long before the novel coronavirus. This pandemic just brought the issues to the forefront. According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), 82 percent of all nursing homes were cited once or more with an infection prevention and control deficiency in the years 2013 through 2017.
Older Americans are among the most at-risk for contracting and dying from the novel coronavirus, so the improper handling of disease prevention from these nursing homes has proved deadly. About one-third of fatalities from COVID-19 have been linked to nursing homes, according to health non-profit Kaiser Family Foundation’s reports.
Although the deficiencies mentioned in the GAO’s report were classified as not severe, the oversights have most likely played a part in how COVID-19 was able to rapidly spread through these facilities. Here are the problems with the facilities that were listed in the GAO’s report:
- Not regularly using proper hand hygiene
- Not isolating sick residents
- Not using personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Not screening for diseases, like tuberculosis
- Not implementing other measures to prevent an infectious disease outbreak
When COVID-19 came to these long-term care facilities, their deficiencies prevented them from responding to the outbreak effectively. Even though nursing homes have restricted visitation as a way to prevent the spread inside and beyond their facilities, they still need to focus on reducing the spread between their residents and staff alone. Some nursing homes did not isolate infected staff and residents properly, as well as allowing all residents to still eat in the same dining room.
On top of those deficiencies in prevention, many nursing homes have been falling short when it comes to publicly tracking their cases. While facilities claim they have not publicly reported their outbreaks to protect patients’ privacy, reporting their cases could help researchers better understand how to prevent outbreaks and what’s happening in nursing homes.
Unfortunately, nursing homes have been hotspots for the novel coronavirus, and their already flawed infection control measures seem to have enabled these devastating outbreaks. At Thomas Law Offices, we know how helpless you must feel because you can’t control the health and care of your loved one in a nursing home during this confusing time. If your loved one isn’t being kept safe in their nursing home, get in touch with our lawyers today.