Human Rights Watch Says Pandemic Exposed Neglect in U.S. Nursing Homes

According to Human Rights Watch, neglect and prolonged isolation of nursing home residents likely caused serious harm to many people in the United States during the Covid-19 pandemic. After interviewing more than 60 people and reviewing reports from independent monitors, Human Rights Watch exposed serious health and safety concerns taking place at U.S. nursing homes, including extreme weight loss, dehydration, untreated bedsores, inadequate hygiene, mental and physical decline, and inappropriate use of psychotropic medications.

Other longstanding issues identified by Human Rights Watch during the pandemic include staffing shortages and the absence of family visitors to assist with crucial day-to-day tasks, which likely contributed to neglect and decline in many nursing homes. The report from Human Rights Watch urged federal and state authorities to investigate the situation and ensure accountability for abuse.

According to Laura Mills, a researcher on elder’s rights at Human Rights Watch, “Even before the pandemic, the U.S. government failed to ensure that nursing homes were adequately staffed and regulated. The huge number of deaths in nursing homes from Covid-19 and emerging reports of neglect during the pandemic show that these failures have come at an enormous cost.”

Over 1.4 million residents and long-term care employees have been infected with the coronavirus and more than 178,000 have died from Covid-19. This makes up 34 to 40% percent of all United States deaths from Covid-19. The Associated Press reported that there were roughly 40,000 excess deaths in nursing homes across the U.S. that weren’t Covid-19-related between March and November of 2020.

Independent monitors called ombudspersons and investigators also reported receiving complaints about potential neglect in nursing homes during the pandemic. The New York Attorney General’s Office received “reports of neglect and abuse of nursing home residents seemingly unrelated to Covid-19,” and a 2020 September independent investigation of nursing homes in Connecticut revealed that depression, unplanned weight loss, and severe bedsores were rampant among nursing home residents due to worsened conditions during the pandemic.

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If you or a loved one has suffered nursing home abuse or neglect, please get in touch with our compassionate and skilled legal professionals at Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP so we can use our extensive resources and knowledge of the law to advocate for the high-quality care and treatment you deserve. We understand that nursing home abuse and neglect cases can be deeply emotional experiences for victims and families, which is why we offer reliable and effective representation at each phase of the legal process.

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