Firm Argues Facilities Failed to Properly Train Staff in Infection Control and Emergency Preparedness as Required by NYS and Federal Laws
UNIONDALE, NEW YORK — Duffy & Duffy, PLLC has announced the first of a series of lawsuits being filed against New York nursing homes on behalf of the families of residents who died as a result of the coronavirus.
The lawsuits claim the defendant nursing home facilities violated the New York State Public Health Law by failing to adequately train their staff on protocols regarding infection control and emergency preparedness. Even before the coronavirus was discovered, state and federal regulations mandated nursing homes be prepared for viral outbreaks. But back in February, the facilities were specifically warned by the New York State Department of Health about the coming coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately, they still failed to prepare for it. The lawsuits go on to say that the nursing homes willfully and/or recklessly violated the residents’ rights to be informed of any significant changes to their loved one’s health and of any care and treatment they receive that may affect the residents’ well-being.
The 2016 Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Final Rule and its accompanying 2019 memorandum required nursing home facilities to implement an infection prevention and control program and hire an infection preventionist to oversee the program, but the facilities willfully failed to do so, resulting in the preventable deaths of residents. Although nursing homes were granted immunity during the coronavirus pandemic, the firm contends that the facilities are responsible for the injuries caused due to the reckless misconduct and willful gross negligence of the nursing home administration and staff in failing to comply with public health regulations.
The state’s nursing homes were granted immunity from legal liability as part of the Emergency or Disaster Treatment Protection Act that was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo on April 2. According to reports, the Greater New York Hospital Association — an industry group that gave $3 million to the campaigns of Governor Cuomo and state Democratic politicians — drafted the legal protections put into the bill.
The firm is seeking to overcome the immunity issue by arguing that the State Health Department issued its warning before the legal protections were granted; the facilities enjoyed the immunity at the expense of the residents’ health; and such protections do not protect the nursing homes from reckless or willful gross negligence.
Research from The New York Times shows that 21% of all COVID-19 related deaths statewide were at nursing homes. Infections and deaths at nursing homes varied widely — of the 452 nursing homes in New York State, 21 had no deaths, and 110 had only one or two deaths as of June 29, according to the state Health Department. These numbers suggest that protocols and preventative measures varied widely among nursing home facilities in the state.
Those nursing homes that complied with state law and had adequate measures in place when the pandemic occurred were more effective in dealing with the outbreak. On the other hand, the facilities that failed to appropriately prepare and implement these safety rules caused avoidable deaths in large numbers:
|Nursing Home||County||Confirmed/Suspected COVID-19 Related Deaths|
|St. Patrick’s House||Bronx||40|
|Throgs Neck Rehab||Bronx||37|
|Cobble Hill Center||Kings||56|
|Cold Spring Hills||Nassau||35|
|The New Jewish||Westchester||50|
|LI Veterans Home||Suffolk||71|
|The Valley View||Orange||34|
|The New Jewish||New York||58|
|The Riverside||New York||61|
|Isabella Geriatric||New York||68|
“These facilities were reckless because they had the opportunity to prepare themselves for the coronavirus pandemic, but failed to put the necessary systems in place,” said Damien Smith, Esq. of Duffy & Duffy, PLLC. “The State Health Department told these facilities in February to get ready for this wave, and they made the decision not to prepare. Their collective failure to create and implement infection control procedures as required by the Public Health Law is another reason these nursing homes should not have been afforded the legal protections they enjoyed during the pandemic. These facilities not only made it unsafe for their residents, but they fostered a dangerous environment for their own employees.”
For more information, call (516) 394-4200 or visit www.duffyduffylaw.com.
About Duffy & Duffy Law
Based in Uniondale, New York, Duffy & Duffy Law offers solid legal counsel and representation to people who have suffered from negligence and medical malpractice. The firm advocates for patients of negligent physicians and nurses throughout New York, shed light on uninsurable doctors who continued practicing and held insurance companies accountable for dictating patients’ course of treatment, leading to tragic outcomes. Duffy & Duffy Law serves injured individuals throughout Nassau, Suffolk, and Kings Counties, as well as the Bronx, Queens and other areas of New York. For more information, call (516) 394-4200 or visit www.duffyduffylaw.com.