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January 06, 2023

Mass. High Court Hears Appeal of Criminal Charges for Covid Nursing Home Deaths

Two former Massachusetts nursing home directors presented arguments in the M.A. Supreme Judicial Court on January 4 in a case involving the deaths of 76 veterans from COVID-19 early in the pandemic. The deaths occurred soon after the Superintendent and the Medical Director of a veterans’ nursing facility merged Covid-positive and Covid-negative residents with dementia from two floors because of staffing shortages. A lower court had ruled in 2021 that the directors did not count as caretakers under Massachusetts law protecting residents from abuse and neglect by a caretaker, and the state appealed.  This is one of, if not the, first criminal case brought against a nursing home for its response to the pandemic. The outcome in the case could determine whether nursing home administrators liters have are bound by the same responsibilities as direct caretakers not to commit mistreatment or neglect.

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