Georgia Legal Immunity

Negligent Care is OK?

The Miami Herald reported on the negative effects of Georgia’s unfair immunity law for nursing homes. Consumer advocates, industry experts, and families of neglected and abused residents complain about the blanket legal immunity. Georgia Republican lawmakers blocked lawsuits unless plaintiffs can prove by clear and convincing evidence that nursing homes were grossly negligent. This is an almost impossible legal standard.

“They’re saying negligent care is OK,” said Sam Brooks of the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, which advocates for nursing home residents. “This creates a standard that every nursing home resident could be subjected to harmful care without repercussions.”

Republican Governor Brian Kemp signed an executive order arbitrarily limiting the liability of employees, staff and contractors of healthcare institutions and medical facilities even if they admitted to making a mistake. It is not fair and certainly not necessary. Let a jury decide what is reasonable under the circumstances.

Georgia is one of at least 34 states that have shielded nursing homes — along with other health providers and private businesses — from lawsuits over coronavirus deaths and infections during the pandemic, citing unforeseen challenges and economic hardships.

Atlanta attorney Moses Kim said the state has made it nearly impossible for families to file lawsuits against nursing home providers, even if there is evidence of neglect.

Resident Rights

“The public’s rights are being robbed,” Kim said. “And, what’s at stake is the wellbeing of our family members. When no one is kept accountable, what happens? People misbehave.”

The AARP is working to defeat proposals in 11 states that would either enact new legal shields or extend the effective dates of existing ones.

Meanwhile, a Walgreens executive told CNBC that 60% of nursing home workers turned down the coronavirus vaccine.  20% of nursing home residents also refused the vaccine.

Besides blanket immunity, a new proposal would send nearly $1 billion to assist nursing homes with infection control and help manage COVID-19 care for residents.  The legislation is called the COVID-19 Nursing Home Protection Act. The American Health Care Association and Alzheimer’s Association as two of the proposal’s supporters. Unless the money increases direct care staff then it is a waste of money.