HSE Faces Possible Medical Negligence Actions in relation to COVID-19 Transfers to Care Homes

It has emerged that the Health Service Executive (HSE) may have to deal with multiple medical negligence compensation claims in relation to the transfer of patients from hospitals to nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of the initial steps taken by the HSE, to prepare for the pandemic, was to free up as many hospital beds as possible for the treatment of anyone suffering from the illness. Hospital patients were deemed eligible for transfer to care homes even if they were showing symptoms or had been identified as close contacts of others who were COVID-positive. Due to this nursing home operators have claimed that this directly led nursing homes becoming clusters for the infection occurring and the subsequent deaths of many vulnerable residents,

In Co Louth one nursing home has suffered 23 deaths due to COVID-19. Earlier this week it was revealed that the number of nursing home residents who have died from COVID-19 in Ireland stands at 579.

Last week a HSE representative said: “The Chief Medical Officer (Dr Tony Holohan) reported on Tuesday night that there have been 680 deaths in community residential facilities, of which 530 have been laboratory confirmed. ‘Of these deaths, 579 were in nursing homes, of which 445 have been laboratory confirmed.”

One legal expert, barrister Ciaran Mandal, told online news outlet Extra.ie a family wishing to seek compensation in relation to the death of a relative in a nursing home during the pandemic will need to show that the HSE owed a legal care of duty to that patient. He said: “Without knowing specific circumstances, it is impossible to know whether a relative would have a stateable claim or not”.

Mr Mandal continued: “A Court would take into account that we are in the midst of a global pandemic, and nobody can yet know what failures (in the legal sense) there have been, if any; nor what the implications are of any such failures. But the mere fact alone that a patient has sadly died of COVID-19 does not mean that a relative could successfully sue.”

If you have suffered a loss of a loved one in a nursing home during the COVID-19 pandemic and are interested in seeking compensation due to medical negligence, the smartest thing to do is speak to a legal expert familiar with claims such as these. A legal expert guide you through every step of the process, making it easier for you to cope while coming to terms with the loss of a family member.