PREP Act Immunity
The Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act is known as the PREP Act. The Act provides some protection against legal claims related to “countermeasures” during a public health emergency. The PREP Act limits “countermeasures” to drugs, products and devices to diagnose, prevent or treat the virus and its transmission.
Oregon Live reported on an injustice that symbolizes the problem with tort reform and blanket immunity like the PREP Act. Nursing homes continue to argue that the PREP Act prohibits justice for residents to abuse and neglect suffered during the pandemic. Many states passed laws to give immunity to careless and reckless nursing homes that caused wrongful deaths during the pandemic.
One story includes Helena Apothaker. Apothaker’s mom died of COVID-19 after the nursing home admitted a new resident without safety protocols. Silverado Senior Living nursing home jeopardized residents by admitting the man without isolation or testing. He tested positive for the virus. Aptheker shakily said:
It “did not quarantine him, did not test him, and let him walk through that building. This was a disaster of their own making.”
Tony Chicotel is a senior staff attorney for California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform. He believes COVID had “exacerbated long-standing, unaddressed problems in the delivery of care.” He continued:
“There was so much avoidable — and I stress the term ‘avoidable’ — suffering during the pandemic that was caused by these long-standing problems.
Silverado and other companies have argued that they have immunity from such suits under a federal law invoked during the pandemic. There is considerable debate over whether nursing homes get immunity from abuse and neglect unrelated to COVID-19. It would be an injustice to allow nursing homes to profit from avoidable abuse and neglect.