Are Alaska nursing homes doing everything they can to limit the spread of COVID-19?

Apr 6, 2020 8:05 PM ET

Fertile setting.

Nursing homes are a perfect setting for dangerous communicable diseases such as COVID-19 to move in and take over the unarmed at-risk population who live in close proximity to each other with intimate common areas, shared meal areas, and shared sources of food, water, and air. Administrative personnel must take precautions and follow updated state protocols along with those already in place to protect residents in long-term care facilities. The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services has developed guidance to assist residential care facilities, including adult family homes in response to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. Patients over the age of 60 and those with chronic medical conditions are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and facilities should engage in the same practices they have utilized when managing respiratory infections such as influenza. 


Disease spread.

The constant flow of staff and visitors entering a facility increases risks of dangerous pathogens flowing into closed living quarters causing unintentional harm to residents.  Elderly nursing home residents are vulnerable to dangerous complications of COVID-19, as many residents have weakened immune systems and frail bodies exacerbating the likelihood of health issues related to breathing complications and the possibility of death.  Deviations from facility cleanliness, staff hygiene and administrative infectious disease protocols could place a resident at risk and could be considered acts of unintentional negligence. If you, or a loved one suffered injury from a communicable disease at a nursing home due to unsafe practices, inadequate precautions and sustained exposure to other sick residents, you may be entitled to compensation from the facility where the illness originated. Contact a personal injury attorney who specializes in nursing home laws in Alaska. 


Nursing home negligence.

Nursing home abuse covers acts of negligence that cause, or exacerbate existing health conditions or place residents in danger. Sometimes resident’s rights are violated unintentionally and other times through intentional misconduct, but both are considered abuse. 


Wrongful death.

A wrongful death action can be brought forth in Alaska when a person’s death is caused as a direct result of neglect or carelessness by another party.  Negligence would need to be proven.


Alaska law.

Infection control in nursing facilities is governed by the Department of Health and Human Services through Rule 7 AAC 12.760(f) whereby infected residents should be isolated away from health residents. Nursing home standard procedures incorporate this rule through written techniques to control known or suspected communicable diseases or infections. 


Statute of limitations.

The statute of limitations for wrongful death claims in Alaska is two years from the date of the decedent’s death, with reasonable support that a defendant’s negligence or intentional action played a role in causing the death.

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