Patients at Brighton Rehab and Wellness Center were given the experimental drug hydroxychloroquine, without approval from the Pennsylvania Department of Health as a treatment amid COVID-19 concerns.  The news came from a report released Tuesday by the state. Brighton Rehab had one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the country, and a wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against the nursing home. The report from the state says hydroxychloroquine and zinc were given to 205 of the 435 residents. The treatment is not approved by the FDA.  According to the report, the Beaver County nursing home failed to get permission from the state Department of Health.

Resident’s rights.

Nursing homes and long term care facilities are responsible to keep residents safe from harm, and attend to their health, supported by measures outlined in state and local guidelines.  Under Federal Regulation 42 CFR sec. 483.25 (h), they must provide an environment free of hazards with ample supervision and adequate medical treatment to uphold the current medical standards of care. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, and the Centers for Disease Control have outlined specific protocols to contain the spread of COVID-19 infection in these facilities.  If a healthcare provider did not follow the guidelines, there may be some circumstances where they could be held responsible for negative health outcomes and death, based on treatment and care given to residents.

Under Section Pennsylvania Law 201.29(j), all residents “shall be treated with consideration, respect and full recognition of dignity and individuality, including privacy in treatment and in care for the necessary personal and social needs.”

Violation of rights is tort.

Nursing homes may be liable for negligence in care, negligence in hiring/firing staff, and/or negligence in training staff on policies/procedures such as reporting accidents and injuries. Residents or families can sue for monetary compensation for an injury resulting from abuse, neglect, or accidents such as a fall from a bed accident. Nursing homes have not explicitly been included in the immunity language set out from the federal government to protect a certain class of healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.

Nursing home abuse.

Nursing home abuse is defined in Pennsylvania Law Section 201.3 as “the infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation or punishment with the result of physical harm or pain or mental anguish, or deprivation by an individual, including a caretaker, of goods or services that are necessary to attain or maintain physical, mental and psychosocial well-being. This presumes that instances of abuse of all residents, even those in a coma, cause physical harm, or pain or mental anguish.”  Other common types of abuse include verbal abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse, mental abuse, involuntary seclusion, and unintentional abuse.

Hire an attorney.

If a loved one is injured, or death is caused by caregiver acts of negligence during COVID-19 treatment that may have exacerbated existing health conditions, or resulted in death, an attorney can help with an investigation regarding resident’s rights that may lead to a wrongful death action.

Sources.

Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA) of 1987

https://time.com/5835228/nursing-homes-legal-immunity-coronavirus/

http://webserver.health.state.pa.us/health/FacBuilding/default.aspx

https://www.aging.pa.gov/Pages/default.aspx

https://www.pacode.com/secure/data/028/chapter201/chap201toc.html

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