Hospitals in Gallup, New Mexico are in complete disarray during the Coronavirus Pandemic. Hospital workers are unprepared to handle the outbreak inside the hospital. Caregivers are working in unsafe conditions due to the lack of oversight from the hospital’s administration. Hospitals have been unsafe for weeks and it’s unlikely that enough key changes will be made in time for desperate COVID-19 patients relying on hospital workers to save their lives.
The lock down in Gallup around May 9, 2020 caused outsiders of the city of Gallup to be left with very little options to go grocery shopping or have their needs met during these uncertain times. There’s very little evidence that the lock down kept the infection out of Gallup as the number of cases there and in the Navajo Nation continues to grow. Besides New York City, the Navajo Nation has the highest per capita number of Coronavirus cases in the United States.
Gallup’s hospitals are tasked with a huge challenge to get COVID-19 patients back to health while keeping doctors safe. Doctors have become infected as a result of Coronavirus spread within the hospital while treating patients. Even more alarming is the fact that some Gallup hospitals are unable to operate and take care of COVID-19 patients with severe respiratory issues, so those patients are being flown to Albuquerque as most of them are fighting for their lives.
Attorneys are willing to consider handling significant negligence cases against hospitals all around the United States because COVID-19 patients are dying at the hands of doctors so suddenly. Types of medical negligence by COVID-19 doctors in New Mexico that could lead to a claim involve the failure of medical personnel to timely prepare and respond to a sick Coronavirus patient. The lack of a solid response time is life or death for almost all patients suffering respiratory problems and at risk of dying due to breathing problems. Another significant cause of loss of life or long-term health problems brought on by COVID-19 in patients is from health personnel failing to diagnose a patient in a timely manner. Even if a patient is asymptomatic, doctors are putting themselves at legal risk by not working consistently to determine if a patient is COVID-19 positive before the risk of becoming seriously ill or needing to be moved to intensive care units becomes a real possibility.
The most obvious scenario in which medical facilities open themselves up to claims is by not taking simple precautions to prevent COVID-19 from spreading inside the facility where patients are being treated. This has happened at many nursing homes in New Mexico and as a result the facilities have had to look at ways to move forward and not have it happen again. In extreme cases, critical medical personnel such as directors of the hospital, critical care nurses, etc. have chosen to step down because they don’t want to be held responsible for the lack of quality care provided to patients. In almost every scenario, a lack of precautions taken was evident in the medical facilities. The spread of the virus would not have been as severe as it turned out to be for many New Mexico facilities if safety measures were executed in a reasonable manner.
Another scenario in which lawsuits could arise is attorneys arguing on behalf of patients who were victims of negligence that weren’t treated quickly enough and as a result died in the care of doctors. Lack of treatment in the first 7 days for a COVID-19 positive patients resulted in greater risk of loss of life.
Although there are protections in place across all 50 states to keep doctors, hospitals and long-term treatment centers from being targeted in lawsuits, many of the scenarios above won’t apply to those protections for a number of reasons. In fact, COVID-19 is such a unique set of challenges for hospitals that the lack of preparedness actually puts them in much more likely territory to be involved in a lawsuit. Whether a claim is good or bad, claims have already been and will be brought forth in an attempt to hold medical facilitates and staff accountable.
There are an unlimited number of angles to argue misconduct by the hospitals because they were simply ill-prepared to handle such a new disease immediately. An example of a doctor being at risk for a lawsuit is by telling a patient who is sick with COVID-19 to isolate at home for a period such as 14-30 days away from family members. If the patient ends up dying at home that is huge exposure for the doctor. It would have been safer for the doctor to have said call us at any time if you feel the need to return for treatment or you feel your symptoms are worsening.
A second scenario in which a hospital and staff could be exposed to a lawsuit related to negligence is by denying a COVID-19 positive patient a bed at the hospital if the hospital is at full capacity. COVID-19 patients are at a higher risk of dying if they become sick enough without care and thus a family of a loved one lost to COVID-19 could argue that the ethics and standard of care by the hospital fell below reasonable levels.
Risk needs to be put into perspective when considering negligence lawsuits because not every hospital is operating at the same ethical level and thus some hospitals may be more likely to commit negligence that constitutes a strong case than hospitals that are operating very carefully in handling COVID-19 patients. Flying patients in critical need of around the clock treatment to a better equipped hospital is a smart decision. It is a good way to shed risk and lower the chances of any negligence claims, passing the risk along to the next hospital that continues care for those patients.
Family members of a loved one lost to COVID-19 will be looking for answers. Although many families will be looking to file a claim against a medical facility, naturally even in this unique circumstance of COVID-19, successful lawsuits that argue reasonable negligence will be limited initially since this is uncharted territory for all parties involved.
At the Davis Kelin Law Firm we know that medical facilities and their staff are in no way immune to litigation resulting in wrongful death or negligence or a COVID-19 patient in New Mexico. We will handle these claims with utmost care for the patients and/or their family. We are prepared to accept new COVID-19 wrongful death or medical negligence cases at this time and welcome you to contact us at (505) 242-7200 or on our website at DavisKelin.com with your potential cases, your questions, or any concerns you have at this difficult time for so many.
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