Nursing Homes Look To The Government For Protection After Their Failures Become Clear In Light of the Coronavirus

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Nursing home industry lobbies California Governor Gavin Newsom to sign an order shielding senior care facilities from legal liability by Joel Siegal, California personal injury attorney

On April 28, 2020, in an OP ED piece in the New York Times, Richard Mollot executive director of the Long-Term Community coalition wrote:

“…It was clear almost from the outset that the elderly and frail were in the greatest danger from Covid 19. And it was clear to anyone familiar with American nursing homes that these facilities would not be up to the task of protecting their older and infirm residents…”

To date there are over 15,000 residents and staff who have died as a result of Covid 19 in long term care facilities in over 23 states that report fatality statistics.

The weakness in patient care and oversight in nursing homes that made those deaths more likely were longstanding, widespread, and well known.

According to Mr. Mollot, one-third of Medicare beneficiaries admitted to nursing homes suffer harm within two weeks of entering the facility, according to a 2014 report from the Federal Office of Inspector General. These are the short-term residents for whom facilities are paid the most and who are typically most able to articulate their concerns if something is wrong. Where does that leave the majority of residents who are in the facility long term, most of whom are older, frail and cognitively impaired? These existing problems intensify the risk that residents will suffer and die, not only from Covid 19 but also from the erosion of care the pandemic is causing, increasing neglect and abuse in a system that on a good day fails to fulfill its duties.

However, as reported in the San Francisco Chronicle and Los Angeles Times on April 23, 2020, The Nursing Home Industry is attempting to “fend off,” in other words, preclude, in other words make it illegal to bring civil actions against nursing homes for neglect. The nursing home industry is lobbying Governor Newsom to sign a sweeping order it has drafted that would shield senior care facilities as well as doctors and hospitals from lawsuits and prosecutions.

Joel H. Siegal, a civil rights and elder abuse attorney based in Oakland with offices around the State, says that this lobbying by the industry is outrageous and is against public interest.

“Poor care in senior facilities exists, because regulators let the nursing home industry treat standards of care as recommendations not as guidelines. Often staffing issues are made based on profit and not patient care concerns. At the end of the day, nursing homes rely on high powered lobbyists and lawyers to protect them from their misdeeds and neglect. As our population ages, nursing homes need to be a beacon of quality care that all of us can look to. Letting them off the hook here is outrageous. We need to protect our seniors- we need to protect those amongst us who are most vulnerable,” said Siegal.

While it is true that a pandemic is a force of nature, abuse in nursing homes has been here for a long time and has been made worse by Covid 19. It is not time to give them a pass on their misdeeds.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION contact Joel H. Siegal at or call toll-free at (800) 711-1962.

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Joel Siegal
Siegal and Richardson, LLP
+1 800-711-1962
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