Little Rock Arkansas: Was nursing home care the reason one resident died of COVID-19?

Apr 2, 2020 10:05 PM ET

A Briarwood Nursing Home resident was the seventh person to die of COVID-19 in Little Rock Arkansas.  Eighty-three-year-old Alice Jett suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease with dementia. She had lived at Briarwood Nursing and Rehabilitation for approximately five years.

 

Communicable disease.

Nursing homes offer the perfect setting for dangerous communicable diseases and administrative personnel must take precautions and have protocols in place to protect their residents. Residents live in close proximity to each other with intimate common areas, shared meal areas, and shared sources of food, water, and air. That fact, coupled with the constant traffic of new residents, staff, and visitors entering a facility bringing dangerous pathogens into closed living quarters can lead to unintentional negligence that may cause  a resident to become ill and/or die in a case of  nursing home disease transmission.  Elderly nursing home residents are vulnerable to dangerous complications, as many residents have weakened immune systems and frail bodies. Older adults are already at higher risk for certain infections, such as the flu and they are more at risk for dangerous complications, such as pneumonia. Since COVID-19 exacerbates issues related to breathing, any deviation from facility cleanliness, staff hygiene and administrative infectious disease protocols could place a resident at risk. 

 

Hygiene.

Proper hygiene and cleanliness can go a long way to prevent communicable disease spread resulting in severe illness and death of residents. If you, or a loved one suffered injury from a communicable disease at a nursing home due to unsafe practices, inadequate precautions and prolonged exposure to other ill 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 Arkansas. 

 

Nursing home abuse.

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.  Nursing homes may be liable for negligence in care, negligence in hiring/firing staff, and/or negligence in training of staff, when a resident is mistreated or injured. 

 

Wrongful death.

A wrongful death action shall be brought by and in the name of the personal representative of a deceased person with the help of legal counsel. If there is no personal representative, then the action shall be brought by the heirs at law of the deceased person including:

 

the deceased person’s surviving spouse, children, parents, or siblings

persons standing “in loco parentis,” and
persons to whom the deceased stood in loco parentis.

 

Arkansas law.

Arkansas law separates wrongful death claims into two sub-categories: the estate claim and the family claim. The estate claim seeks compensation for losses the deceased person suffered as a result of his or her untimely death including funeral and burial costs; medical bills for treatment of the deceased person’s last illness or injury; pain and suffering the deceased endured before death, and the loss of the value of the deceased including wages they may have earned.

The family claim seeks compensation for losses the family members suffered as a result of losing their family member to an untimely death including the loss of the financial support of the deceased person; loss of household services, and loss of care, comfort, and guidance.

 

Statute of limitations.

The statute of limitations for wrongful death claims in Arkansas is one year 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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