One of the first critical hotspots of COVID-19 in the country wound up being in Washington state and it was at a nursing home. But that wouldn’t be the last one by a long shot. Since then, nursing homes around the country have been ravaged by the virus for a number of reasons, some obvious and others less so. Now associations representing these nursing homes for the elderly are pressuring state governments to approve some sort of legal immunity from civil suits brought against them by families of their residents. The response to such requests has been mixed, to say the least. (NBC News)
As the COVID-19 death toll at nursing homes climbs to nearly 12,000, the nursing home industry is pushing states to provide immunity from lawsuits to the owners and employees of the nation’s 15,600 nursing homes.
So far at least six states have provided explicit immunity from coronavirus lawsuits for nursing homes, and six more have granted some form of immunity to health care providers, which legal experts say could likely be interpreted to include nursing homes.
Patient advocates worry that nursing homes accused of extreme neglect could avoid liability.
As I suggested above, the question of how to deal with nursing homes during the pandemic is a complicated one. At first glance, it’s easy to have some sympathy for the staff and management of these facilities as well as the residents. They specialize in providing permanent care to people who are classified as the most at risk for the worst outcomes if they become infected. Residents are uniformly up in retirement age, the bracket accounting for the greatest number of COVID-19 deaths. And they almost all tend to have underlying health issues complicating their situations further. Few people go into a nursing home because the didn’t feel like going golfing with their kids and grandkids every day.