Connecticut has not been spared the consequences of severe pandemic outbreaks in neighboring States, most notably, New York. As often occurs, the most vulnerable populations suffer the most as they lack the practical ability and resources to protect themselves. Arguably, no segment of the society is more dependent on others to protect them from Coronavirus than residents of Connecticut's nursing homes and long term care facilities. Yesterday, a State Marshal effecting service of process mentioned that his close relative was in a Nursing home in West Hartford that had a handful of active Covid-19 infections. His relative had not caught it as yet but the concern was real. The Marshal checked to see if his relative could be moved to another Nursing home in Manchester and was advised that they too had a Covid 19 outbreak. The Connecticut Mirror reported that one out of twelve Connecticut nursing homes has a Covid -19 infection rate of at least 25% according to an analysis of State data. Evidently, 213 State Nursing homes were included in the data assessment which also disclosed that one out of every fifty residents have already died from contracting the disease. A breakdown of the facilities statewide reported by the Department of Social Services appears below;
Institutional or hospital negligence more often that not is a matter of vicarious liability for the actions or omissions of its agents and employees. The idea that it only acts through its doctors and nurses upon their own individual responsibility has been rejected by Supreme Courts in other states. In the Illinois Supreme Court decision in Darling v Charleston Community Memorial Hospital, 33 Ill. 2d, 211 NE 2d 253 (1965), the Court stated: “the conception that the hospital does not undertake to treat the patient, does not undertake to act through its doctors and nurses, but undertakes instead simply to procure them to act upon their own responsibility, no longer reflects the fact. Present day Nursing homes , as their manner of operations plainly demonstrates, do far more than furnish facilities for residence. They regularly employ on a salary basis a staff of physician, nurses and interns, as well as administrative and manual workers, and they charge patients for medical care and treatment, collection for such services, if necessary, by legal action. Certainly, the person who avails himself of such facilities and their families expects that the institutions, its management, and staff will act responsibility and protect those that cannot protect themselves. . The standards for hospital accreditation, the state licensing regulations assume certain responsibilities per discharged for the care of the patient.”
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court in the case of Thompson v Nason Hospital 591 A 2d 703 (Penn. Sup. CT 1991) has held that a medical care facility has four distinct duties:
- A duty to use reasonable care in the maintenance of safe and adequate facilities and equipment;
- A duty to select and retain only competent physicians;
- A duty to oversee all persons who practice medicine within its walls as to patient care; and
- A duty to formulate, adopt and enforce adequate rules and policies to ensure quality care for patients.
Corporate negligence is the failure of those entrusted with the task of providing the accommodations and facilities necessary to carry out the charitable purposes of the
corporation to follow, in a given situation, the established standard of conduct to which the corporation should conform. The duty of following such a standard of conduct is
nondelegable, and the corporation is chargeable with corporate negligence for failure to perform that duty.