In recent months, providers have been faced with the challenge of caring for those patients diagnosed with COVID-19. It has greatly affected the long-term care community and several states have taken steps to protect providers from lawsuits related to the care provided during this national pandemic. This civil immunity, granted to health care providers responding to COVID-19, varies state to state depending on each state’s individual legislation or executive orders.
While some legal experts and patient advocates have warned that broad protections may allow cases of extreme negligence to go unpunished, several states including Massachusetts and New York have passed laws that undoubtedly protect facilities. Other states have addressed nursing home liability as a response to the outbreak as well. Governors in Connecticut, Georgia, Michigan and New Jersey have issued executive orders that include skilled nursing facility protections.
In Illinois and Arizona, the governors signed executive orders, while Louisiana, Wisconsin and Kentucky have passed laws. These orders/legislative actions protect health care providers grossly, but do not specifically list skilled nursing facilities.
With many states still in legislative limbo, it’s important to takes steps to protect yourself and your facility. The best protection, for now, should begin with effective policies and procedures, infection prevention and control training and monitoring activities and strong documentation. Clinical documentation of the care being provided for suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 is important, in addition to administrative documentation that includes of timeline of implementation of local and federal guidance and your evolving action plan. By way of example, documentation should include, but is not limited to:
- Timeline of actions
- QSO Documents
- State Department of Health Guidance
- CDC and other lead agency guidance
- Additions to Facility Assessment
- Updates to Staffing Plans
- Management of PPE shortages
- Attempts to obtain adequate supplies
- Infection control and other policy and procedure updates
- Isolation measures your facility is taking
- Testing protocols and records
- Screening processes and logs
- Surveillance data
- QAPI activities
Skilled Nursing News. Multiple States Take Steps to Shield Nursing Homes From Liability Amid COVID-19 — But Rules Vary (2020) https://skillednursingnews.com/2020/04/multiple-states-take-steps-to-shield-nursing-homes-from-liability-amid-covid-19-but-rules-vary/
American Health Care Association. (2020) What to Do When COVID-19 Gets into Your LTC Facility. https://www.ahcancal.org/Pages/Default.aspx