Hospital Negligence During Covid-19

By Greg Kohn

There is a great deal that we do not yet know about COVID-19, but that fact does not mean that hospitals get a free pass to be careless and endanger lives during this pandemic. Failure to follow safety protocols for infectious diseases or observe the guidelines specific to COVID-19 could make a hospital liable for harm. 

We are all grateful to our tireless healthcare workers. When a hospital fails to protect the health of patients and visitors, medical personnel could also contract COVID-19. If you or a loved one think that you might have sustained harm because of hospital negligence during the COVID-19 pandemic, a New Jersey hospital malpractice attorney could help you evaluate whether you qualify to go after money damages for your losses.

Sub-Standard Medical Care of COVID-19 Patients in Hospitals

When a person enters a hospital with a diagnosis of COVID-19, the hospital has a duty to monitor the patient closely and provide the medical care the patient needs. If a person gets admitted for some other reason, like severe injuries from a car accident, and then develops symptoms of COVID-19, the hospital has an obligation to test the patient promptly for COVID-19 and start treatment as appropriate.

Sub-Standard Care of Non-COVID-29 Patients in Hospitals

If you did not have COVID-19 but contracted it through the negligence of a hospital, you might be able to hold the hospital responsible. Here are a few examples of the ways that a non-COVID-19 patient could. Contract COVID-19 because a hospital failed to provide medical care in the safest way possible:

  • The hospital did not use telehealth services when appropriate and available. The CDC advises hospitals to use telehealth and other means to minimize the need for in-person services for people who do not have the COVID-19 virus.
  • The hospital failed to follow standard infection control protocols for infectious diseases to prevent an infected patient or healthcare worker from transmitting the virus to an uninfected patient. Some of the standard procedures include screening all patients for symptoms of COVID-19.
  • The facility performed elective procedures that could have waited until a later point. Unnecessary exposure of patients to the risk of COVID-19 can be medical negligence.

Guidelines for hospitals to follow during the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to the traditional infectious disease protocols, include:

  • Screening everyone for symptoms of COVID-19, like fever, before allowing them to enter a healthcare facility.
  • Requiring the use of face masks or cloth face coverings by everyone who enters a hospital, regardless of whether the person has a fever or exhibits any other signs of COVID-19.
  • Hospitals must isolate patients who show signs of COVID-19 as soon as possible, even before test results confirm the disease. Isolation can involve separate triage areas with proper ventilation, and private rooms with private bathrooms, if possible. The hospitals should keep the doors these patient rooms closed. 
  • Hospitals must follow the COVID-19 guidelines about how to collect and handle specimens and perform procedures that can generate particles in the air (aerosol-generating procedures).
  • Medical facilities cannot allow free access to patients by visitors or permit patients to roam the hospital at will. 
  • Ventilation and other environmental controls within the hospital must adhere to COVID-19 guidelines.
  • Healthcare professionals must uniformly follow the guidelines to minimize the chance for exposures and transmission.

In these uncertain times, we all have a heightened responsibility to keep ourselves and each other healthy. Contact us today. Our New Jersey hospital malpractice attorneys can help you hold a hospital responsible if it delivered sub-standard care that harmed you during the COVID-19 crisis.

About the Author
Greg Kohn is a partner at Nagel Rice and specializes in complex civil litigation cases, including professional malpractice, personal injury, class actions, wrongful death, products liability, and commercial litigation.  He has extensive experience representing clients in both state and federal court. Greg has tried many jury trials to verdict and has recovered over $50 million in settlements and verdicts in all types of personal injury matters including automobile accidents, wrongful death cases, slip and falls, and other catastrophic injury cases. Greg also handles medical malpractice cases, involving misdiagnoses, wrongful birth, and delayed cancer diagnosis. If you have questions regarding this article, you can contact Greg here.