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The data is clear that many of the early deaths in the coronavirus pandemic were residents of nursing homes. Seniors are at high risk of contracting the disease because of their advanced age and because many seniors have preexisting conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and weakened immune systems – which increase the risk of acquiring the deadlier form of the disease.

In a recent Washington Post story, nurses and staff at the Southeastern Veterans’ Center in the suburbs of Philadelphia watched many things go wrong in the spring when nursing home death skyrocketed due to a lack of N95 masks, a failure to isolate residents who had the disease, and other failures.

One alarming concern raised by nurses at the Center was the use of a “covid cocktail,” which included the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine which was erroneously touted “as a potentially game-changing treatment for covid-19.” Back in April, the cocktail was given to patients who hadn’t been tested for COVID-19 and to nursing home patients who were at increased risk for the disease based on their medical conditions. Per the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, about Southeastern residents were given hydroxychloroquine, but “several nursing home staff members placed the number higher.” The local county coroner, after reviewing the medical records of those residents who died, found that “at least 11 residents who had received the hydroxychloroquine treatment had not been tested for COVID-19.”

This was negligence at every turn

The use of hydroxychloroquine was at odds with FDA guidelines. The Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency-use authorization for the drug but emphasized that the drug should only be used

  • During clinical trials
  • In hospitals that could provide “careful hearing monitoring”
  • Only after the use of the drug was discussed in detail with patients and their families.

Some nurses at the 238-bed nursing home objected to the use of the drug “at times with little knowledge among patients’ families and largely hidden from lawmakers who have been probing the matter, according to interviews and emails.”

The Washington Post story added that the center’s health-care providers had “sole discretion on use of the drug.” A review of medical notes and records, emails and other communications and documents showed how the center had used this unproven treatment and how the bureaucracy of the state “obscured critical decision-making in the midst of a pandemic.”

The center, the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, and the Pennsylvania Department of Health have not offered details about the use of the drug including how decisions were made about which patients were chosen and monitored.

William C. Hunter, a Johns Hopkins-trained internist who served as the center’s medical director until he retired in December said, “It was an untried cocktail. The risks and potential benefits were completely unknown — no real scientific studies were conducted.” He called the cocktail treatment “reckless.”

What can I do if my loved one died from a “Covid Cocktail”?

Veterans in Illinois’ four state-run residences, as well as those in private residences, deserve the best medical treatment possible. Thankfully, none of our state’s VA homes have been implicated in giving their residents this deadly and largely-debunked concoction. However, if you live in Illinois but your loved one was in the Southeastern VA facility, or in another facility that was prescribing hydroxychloroquine against FDA recommendations, you may be able to take legal action against the state or the facility itself, depending on who runs it.

When nursing homes or VA homes abuse or mistreat their residents, they deserve to be held accountable for any pain and suffering, death, and medical bills that occur. Gainsberg Law works with physicians who understand proper geriatric medical care. To schedule a consultation with an experienced Chicago nursing home abuse attorney, call us at 312.600.9585 or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment.