As COVID Cases Go to Trial…

 On January 8, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an official advisory about a pneumonia outbreak of unknown etiology and provided guidance to evaluate patients on January 17.  On March 9, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published its first guidance for nursing homes on COVID-19.  As the courts hear cases relating to claims of negligence and wrongful death in nursing homes, facilities must be able to demonstrate compliance with federal, state, and internal guidelines as they existed on specific dates throughout the pandemic.

In the Briggs vs. Life Care Centers of America, et al. case in U.S. District Court for Western Washington, defense attorneys had argued in January for summary judgement noting “inadequate evidence” to support negligence and wrongful death claims.  The plaintiffs, whose family members died in March 2020, allege the facility did not follow its own policy on outbreak control and management.  Life Care Centers argues it could not prevent COVID-19 from entering or spreading through the facility and “they followed all applicable guidance and regulations in early 2020….” The federal jury found that the company was not at fault for the women’s deaths.  The jury did find that the facility was negligent in one death; however, the jury did not find that the negligence was the proximate cause of her death.  At issue in the trial was the lack of availability of guidance about the virus from federal and state agencies in early 2020.

The outcome of this trial has been monitored by senior care facilities which faced a barrage of directives, orders, rules, memorandums, and constantly changing COVID guidance.  Maintaining an organized catalog of these documents has been daunting, with new guidance often overwriting previous directives.  As the Public Health Emergency was declared, Excelas, in conjunction with our clients, built a database to archive over 10,000 documents published by various regulatory agencies which is merged with a healthcare organization’s policies and procedures.  Excelas’ COVID-19 Comprehensive Integrated Timeline Tool (CITT) generates reports to demonstrate that a facility was in compliance with the standards that were in place at any given time throughout the pandemic.  Contact Excelas for a demonstration of how this powerful tool can assist you in assessing and defending COVID related cases.

COVID Integrated Timeline

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