A report by the Inspector General’s office of the Department of Health and Human Services found that nursing homes are inadequately prepared to handle common natural disasters. In the report, investigators found many “gaps in nursing home preparedness and response.” Further, the report states that long-term care facilities’ “[e]mergency plans lacked relevant information.” The report comes on the heels of the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe which claimed the lives of numerous nursing facility residents, some of whom drowned in their beds.
Medicare/Medicaid regulations require some disaster relief planning, but the report recommends additional planning. According to an article by the Huffington Post, many federal requirements for disaster relief planning requirements is currently maintained “in nonbinding federal guidelines that investigators found were disregarded.” Read more here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/16/nursing-homes-disaster-plan_n_1427739.html.
Disaster planning has taken a more prominent role in recent years following Hurricane Katrina, severe flooding and numerous deadly tornadoes. In Ohio, Mishkind Kulwicki Law attorneys are handling a claim involving lifesaving equipment that malfunctioned during severe weather. Due to a power outtage, a ventilator failed. While the nursing home maintained the required back-up generator, workers could not find a “hot plug” to reactivate the ventilator. As a result, the patient arrested. With proper disaster planning, the patient’s arrest should have been avoided. In such situations, where a facility violates federal regulations and that results in harm to patients, Ohio law supports a claim for negligence.