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The Debate Over Immunity for California Nursing Homes During COVID-19

By Walton Law APCMay 25, 2020July 23rd, 2023No Comments

When COVID-19 began to spread, it was a largely unknown foe. Hospitals, doctors, pharmacies, nursing homes, and long-term care facilities were all struggling to find ways to stop the spread, protect patients and employees alike, and understand more about the virus. Now, lobbyists for California’s healthcare providers have asked Governor Newsom to use emergency powers and grant them civil and criminal immunity for their handling of the pandemic. This raises a number of interesting points and issues as it relates to transparency at California nursing homes and concerns of abuse or neglect during the pandemic.

Immunity Request

Not only are hospitals, doctors, nurses, and healthcare plans asking for immunity, California Assisted Living Association and LeadingAge California have joined in the request for an Executive Order to make facilities, plans, doctors, and healthcare employees immune from administrative sanction, criminal liability, or “civil liability or claim for any injury, death, or loss” stemming from care provided during the state of emergency. The protection from liability, however, will “not excuse willful misconduct.”

Similar orders have been passed in other states, such as, Georgia, Illinois, New York, and New Jersey, which have all enacted such protections.

Current California Law

State law already protects a number of parties that render services in emergency situations from liability for injuries sustained due to their care unless a “willful act or omission” occurred. The list includes:

  • Doctors
  • Dentists
  • Hospitals
  • Pharmacists
  • Nurses

However, currently nursing homes and assisted living facilities are not covered under this law; that is what healthcare lobbyists seek to change with their request to Governor Newsom.

Concerns with the Immunity Proposal

The problem many advocates have is that the scope of immunity is overreaching – essentially, it removes the few existing protections residents in California’s nursing homes currently have. The request for immunity is not limited to COVID-19 treatment during the State of Emergency. The umbrella protects any care given to nursing home residents. In an industry plagued with abuse and neglect issues it potentially gives facilities and their employees license to not provide necessary or routine care, in addition to, not taking proper protective measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

Nursing homes have a long history of abuse and neglect claims, understaffed facilities, and lack of employee protection and training. Currently, state inspectors are not conducting onsite inspections of nursing homes, and families have been unable to visit nursing homes and similar facilities since March to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This means there is no oversight and no one present to recognize recklessness or negligence and report it to the proper government agencies and law enforcement or to prompt an investigation unless an egregious health problem arises.

Speak with a San Diego Nursing Home Attorney Today

If you have a loved one in a nursing home or other long-term care facility during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s likely a worrisome time given the current inability to visit them and observe the conditions of the facility. If you have questions or concerns about their care, or if you suspect they are being abused or neglected, contact the skilled San Diego nursing home attorneys at Walton Law, APC today. We have years of experienced representing victims like you and fighting for you to receive justice and much-deserved compensation, and we pride ourselves on staying on the cutting edge of legal news to be able to better advise you of your rights and options. The initial consultation is free and there is no fee unless we win your case. Let our experienced attorneys review your case, answer your questions, and give you the guidance you need in these uncertain times. Call us today at (866) 338-7079 or Contact Us online to schedule your free consultation.

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