Out-of-Date Nursing Home Inspections Are Propelling COVID-19

Out-of-Date Nursing Home Inspections Are Propelling COVID-19 When the coronavirus pandemic struck, one of the hardest decisions families had to weigh was whether to risk leaving vulnerable family members in nursing homes, or to somehow bring them home. Many families were unable to bring their loved ones home with them, as they were unable to provide the level of care these types of facilities provide.

Nursing homes and care facility managers across the country assured families their loved ones would be safe under their care. Fast-forward several months, and story after story of COVID-19 outbreaks at nursing homes across the country, including alarming evidence of nursing home abuse and neglect. Many experts believe long-overdue government inspections give these facilities a license to become reckless.

The inspection pace is raising concerns in some states

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities need regular inspections to ensure residents are properly cared for during a pandemic. As such, The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a directive this past spring that all such facilities around the country were to conduct targeted infection control inspections by July 31, 2020.

However, as of July 3, 2020, the AJC also reports over 1,300 residents of Georgia’s nursing homes and long-term care facilities have died from COVID-19, with less than half of their inspections completed. While Georgia previously placed in the bottom three for lagging in inspections, as of July 27, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Alaska have dropped to the bottom instead.

Why are nursing home inspections so important?

Since early in the coronavirus pandemic, these healthcare centers have operated under the cover of darkness, so to speak. With visitor bans in place, loved ones don’t have an advocate to witness and report any and issues or problems – which can put residents at risk.

Nursing home inspections are even more important, because without inspector ensuring the safety and minimizing risk, cases of COVID-19 can spin out of control. For example, Beaufort Nursing and Rehab in South Carolina’s low country is responsible for one of the largest nursing home outbreaks in the state. Experts traced the outbreak back to the state reopening and staff members intermingling with community members outside of work in a coronavirus hotspot. COVID-19 spread to at least 38% of Beaufort Nursing and Rehab’s residents in about one month’s time.

Nursing home inspections may have identified risky behavior, leading to better infectious disease protocols, saving lives of high-risk residents.

Shining a spotlight on South Carolina nursing homes

Because government agencies and nursing homes themselves are understaffed, states like South Carolina and Georgia that attract large numbers or retirees face significant problems. And, when nursing home inspectors are hard to find, it stands to follow that inspections will take much longer to complete, leaving more time for residents to succumb to dangerous health conditions.

In the case of Beaufort Nursing and Rehab, CMS ranked them a two-star care facility based on prior inspections and insufficient staffing, among other concerns. The publication, Propublica, has provided an interactive nursing home inspection map with information for each state based on:

  • Serious deficiencies
  • Fines
  • Infection-related deficiencies

The nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys at McGowan, Hood, Felder & Phillips, LLC care about your family member’s safety as much as you do. If your parent or loved one suffered an injury due nursing home incompetence or negligence, we want to help. To schedule your free consultation with a member of our legal team, call 803-327-7800, or we invite you to reach out to us through our contact page.