California Wildfires Threaten Nursing Home Residents with Injury and Death

Lawsuit vs. nursing home for wildfire evacuation injuries or death

Understanding the Law on Nursing Home Natural Disaster Preparedness and Bringing a Natural Disaster Nursing Home Lawsuit

The recent California wildfires have made national news. The burning flames are leaving devastation of record levels. Unfortunately, unprepared nursing homes may expose their residents to harm, injury or even wrongful death, if they do not act appropriately in the face of the California wildfires.

The standard of care for California facilities requires back up power generators and safe evacuation of residents. Failing to meet this standard of care can lead to a wildfire injury lawsuit.

Emergency Preparedness in a Nursing Home or Assisted Living – What is Required?

Nursing homes must be prepared for natural disastersLaws and regulations require nursing homes and assisted living facilities to be prepared for natural disasters, like the wildfires in California. These rules are in place for obvious reasons. Long term care facilities house many vulnerable patients, many of whom are dependent on machines and medical devices in order to stay alive. Some patients literally live or die depending on the availability of oxygen machines.

It is not acceptable for a nursing home to claim it lost power, and as a result, its residents died. Instead, a nursing home must have back up power sources, like generators, to keep the life-saving medical devices on for its vulnerable patients. In a state like California, the inconvenience of a wild fire is reasonably foreseeable. Due to this foreseeability, the law requires nursing homes to be ready to face an uncontrolled fire at its doorstep.

Safe Evacuation in a Nursing Home or Assisted Living – What is Required?

Laws and regulations also require nursing homes and assisted living facilities to be prepared to safely evacuate the facility. This is true in the face of wildfires, hurricanes, and even bedbug infestation.

Sometimes, the external harm becomes too close to safely remain in the facility. In these instances, nursing homes are required to safely evacuate the facility. This includes the residents and accompanying staff members.

If a nursing home is forced to relocate residents, their legal duty to protect the residents does not stop at the door. Facility management must ensure that these residents are relocated in a safe manner, in order to prevent falls and transfer injuries, even if these occur offsite.

California Nursing Homes Impacted by the California Wildfire

As a result of the wildfires ravaging Central California, PG&E has confirmed widespread power outages. However, nursing homes should have back up power generators in place, similar to the one operating at the Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital in Grass Valley. At Sierra Nevada Memorial, the generator-provided power remains on and patients remain safe. Unlike Sierra Nevada, Kaiser Permanente and Sutter Health hospitals evacuated and relocated patients. Luckily, so far there have been no reports of injuries, falls or wrongful death in the evacuation and relocation of Santa Rosa healthcare facilities.

Local reports estimate that at least 10 nursing homes and assisted living centers also had to evacuate and relocate residents due to the California wild fires.

California Wildfire Nursing Home Lawsuit

Suing a nursing home in an elder abuse lawsuitOur firm has experience suing negligent nursing homes for failing to adequately prepare for a natural disaster. In the past, our nursing home negligence attorneys have brought hurricane injury cases against nursing homes.

The general theme of the liability case is a lack of preparedness. We request the nursing home’s policies and procedures on natural disasters. These are often woefully deficient, or not followed. Sometimes, proper policies are in place, but the facility waits too long to evacuate the residents. This leads to an unorganized scramble to relocate very frail patients.

In the End, its about Being Ready

While natural disasters can bring chaos and calamity, it is the legal duty of the facility to be prepared to handle the event. Failing to do so may lead to preventable injury and wrongful death, which are grounds for a wildfire nursing home injury lawsuit.

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