New Hampshire took steps to slow the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes by making sure that personal protective equipment was available, separating sick residents from healthy ones, and reducing visitation to the facilities, but these delayed actions may have caused too many of this vulnerable population to contract the virus leading to death in many cases.  In addition, community mitigation in New Hampshire was put in place to act against COVID-19 without the use of medicine or vaccines to: slow the spread of the disease, delay the peak to better prepare treatment, decrease the number of deaths and reduce the number of patients that could potentially overwhelm hospital systems. This has been effectuated by social distancing measures that keep community members home for school and work, and through cancellations of mass gatherings.

Nursing home death toll.

Collectively, these measures have been unable to stop the high death toll among nursing home residents who share medical resources and intimate living space, creating the perfect setting for communicable diseases. Out of the 209 deaths associated with COVID-19 in New Hampshire, more than 134 were residents of long term care facilities, where staff and administrators were in charge of executing isolation protocols. In addition, other safety-related protocols that protect residents under Federal Regulation 42 CFR sec. 483.25 (h) to provide an environment free of hazards with ample supervision and adequate medical treatment was part of their duty of care to residents. The isolation protocols intended to minimize risks of infection through medical devices utilized in daily care,  transmission between residents and staff, and to inform and isolate infected residents.

Disease spread.

At the outset of the disease, the constant flow of staff and visitors entering a facility may have increased the risks of COVID-19 causing unintentional harm to residents.  However, once there was apparent knowledge of the risk of infection, a resident’s responsible party should have been contacted and updated regarding the need for isolation to reduce the spread of COVID-19.  If proper safety measures were not taken, questions of negligence surrounding residents’ health outcomes may fall back onto a facility, and an attorney who specializes in nursing home law may be able to assist families in finding those answers.

Nursing home negligence.

Contact a personal injury attorney who specializes in nursing home laws in New Hampshire to discuss options and circumstances where immunity has been granted against legal action. Death caused by acts of negligence that exacerbated existing health conditions should be investigated to make certain a resident’s rights were not violated.  A wrongful death action can be brought forth when a person’s death was a direct result of neglect or carelessness by another party, but negligence must be proven before any type of compensation can be addressed.

Sources.

Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA) of 1987

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