There’s no denying that the coronavirus affects the elderly more than any other group of people aside from young ones. If you or a family member have been affected by Coronavirus and are wondering if hospital or nursing malpractice might be applicable, how do you determine if it’s a result of predisposition versus the neglect of a medical professional? Is there such a thing as being a victim of coronavirus as a result of medical malpractice? To answer the question: We simply can’t say.
With older loved ones in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospitals, and other types of senior living facilities, it’s an understandable concern many families have about their older loved one’s increased risk of illness. When families place their elderly members in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and hospitals, they trust that their loved one will get the best care possible.
Advancements in modern medicine are resulting in people living longer than ever before, but, we recognize that the Coronavirus is affecting many people, and the elderly are a target. In fact, on the official website of the CDC, it’s noted that “older adults […] seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness.”
While practical steps could be taken for older ones to stay safe–staying at home (if possible), washing one’s hands often, sanitizing the space, and maintaining a six-foot space between individuals–other concerns might arise that could place an elderly person in an unfavorable position to be affected by COVID-19.
Since we can’t say as of right now if there’s such a thing as elderly medical professional neglect from Coronavirus, we have to handle this concern from a general standpoint. If there could be a case of medical malpractice regarding unnecessary or accidental exposure of elderly ones to COVID-19, the team at Raynes | Erickson will explore this unique topic from all perspectives–the elderly and their family, and the medical professionals.
Elderly Victims of Coronavirus: Neglect vs. the Inevitable
Part of routine care includes regular monitoring. Medical facilities employ people who are trained to look after the elderly with special care. So, medical malpractice happens when a health professional fails to competently perform the duties prescribed to them that consequently causes harm to a patient within their care. When it comes to a case of medical malpractice for the elderly, neglect should not be confused with abuse.
Abuse is defined as the intentional infliction of harm. This entails unreasonable confinement, intimidation, deprivation of entitlements, or punishment that renders physical, mental, or emotional suffering.
Neglect is the failure to provide the necessary care or services that would protect an individual from injury or harm. This may be intentional or not. It also includes one’s failure to react reasonably to a dangerous situation that resulted in another person’s harm.
Elderly people are the most vulnerable population to require long-term care in our society. At a certain age or level of impairment, many elderly people move into an assisted living or skilled nursing facility where they depend on paid staff to administer daily care. Often, these aged individuals receive attentive care and live out their remaining years in relative comfort.
In general, there are different ways that a medical professional can cause impairment or even death to an elderly patient in their negligence. For example, a medical professional can fail to act when medical attention is required.
Let’s consider some tricky scenarios that might be viewed as medical malpractice or professional neglect for elderly victims. If a medical professional or elderly caregiver fails to do the following, it might be considered medical malpractice or neglect based on the CDC’s prevention guidelines:
- Does not wash their hands when dealing with elderly patients
- Does not frequently disinfect frequently-touched surfaces, including doorknobs, tables, rails, light switches, countertops, toilets, etc.
Other potential malpractice circumstances could be a failure to diagnose,
Why Medical Professionals Are Concerned
According to an article published on the Reuters website, medical professionals do have a valid reason to be concerned regarding elderly victims of the coronavirus and potential medical malpractice lawsuits against elderly neglect.
State chapters of the powerful American Medical Association and other groups representing healthcare providers have been pressing governors for legal cover for decisions made in crisis-stricken emergency rooms.
More than half a dozen emergency room doctors and nurses told Reuters they are concerned about liability as they anticipate rationing care or performing unfamiliar jobs due to staff and equipment shortages caused by the outbreak.
Also, due to delays in testing and misdiagnosis, patients with Coronavirus have been turned away. Such situations not only put the patients and others at risk but also put healthcare providers and hospitals at risk for litigation.
U.S. medical professionals on the front line of the coronavirus pandemic are lobbying policymakers for protection from potential coronavirus malpractice lawsuits.
Should You Reach Out to a Medical Malpractice Attorney?
Medical malpractice has many terms and conditions that determine if there’s a case or not. With the introduction to the Coronavirus and the elderly, this only adds more terms and conditions that might not be a straightforward answer.
Here at Raynes | Erickson Attorneys at Law, we might be able to help. Within our medical malpractice specialty, we offer information and guidance on hospital nursing malpractice, failure to diagnose, wrongful death, and other medical information.
If you or a family member feel that you might be the victims of hospital or nursing malpractice as a result of the coronavirus, please contact our office and speak with a knowledgeable and supportive member of our firm today. It is always a free, no-obligation, confidential legal consultation. Please call us today at (909) 793-6800 (or contact us) for a free, no-obligation, confidential legal consultation.