Articles Posted in Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

A state bill that would have all but eliminated most Florida nursing home wrongful death claims has (thankfully) died in committee. However, our West Palm Beach nursing home injury lawyers wouldn’t put it past the insurance and nursing home industries to push lawmakers to pick up the torch again in another future session.Palm Beach nursing home abuse lawyer

State lawmakers recently prevailed in a series of heavy-handed tort reform efforts – passing laws for shorter personal injury case statutes of limitations, reduced damages and attorney fee coverage for injured claimants, higher than ever proof burdens, and less accountability for insurers acting in bad faith. All of this, of course, makes it harder for those seriously injured as a result of another’s negligence to obtain fair compensation, and is unlikely to do much in the way of lowering insurance premiums (the justification given for many of these measures).

The Florida nursing home wrongful death bill would have been one of the most extreme changes. For the sake of the well-being of all nursing home residents in this state, we’re very glad that it did not pass. But given the momentum of this latest session, we’re not so sure we won’t see this issue resurrected.

House Bill 1029 and its companion Senate Bill 1304 would have significantly raised the bar for nursing home wrongful death cases – to those required of medical malpractice wrongful death cases. Specifically, it would limit claimants in nursing home wrongful death lawsuits in Florida solely to surviving spouses and/or surviving children under the age of 25.

Now, this standard is problematic for medical malpractice cases too, and our civil trial lawyers have voiced our dismay with this too. Existing medical malpractice law that significantly restricts claimants essentially means there is no consequence for medical negligence resulting in a patient’s death if the person who died isn’t married or doesn’t have kids younger than 25.

This same standard applied to nursing home cases would have been disastrous, all but wiping out most claims.

Think about it: Continue reading

The number of nursing home deaths among Medicare patients spiked by 32 percent last year, according to a report recently released by a government watchdog. The report doesn’t examine patient causes of death, but instead compares overall nursing home deaths in 2020 to those in 2019. Death rates were higher every month last year compared to the year before. Nearly 75,000 deaths in nursing homes were reported in December 2020 alone. Palm Beach nursing home injury

The inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services reported that about 4 in 10 nursing home residents on Medicare had COVID-19 at some point last year. Overall deaths increased by nearly 170,000 over the previous year.

Health policy professors responding to the report noted to these were, “not individuals who were going to die anyway… We’re talking about a really big number of excess deaths.”

As our Palm Beach nursing home injury lawyers can explain, not every nursing home death of the last year may be legally actionable. This is particularly true following the passage of Senate Bill 72, called Civil Liability for Damages Relating to COVID-19. Signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis in April, the measure casts a broad legal safety net around nursing homes and long-term care facilities when it comes to pandemic-related claims.

However, it does not shield facilities whose residents suffer injury or wrongful death due to negligence, neglect, and abuse. But that does not mean some nursing homes won’t try to use SB 72 as blanket protection from nursing home litigation during the pandemic, potentially for issues like understaffing, which have been chronic and date back to long before COVID. Our Florida nursing home injury lawyers are committed to fighting for justice and the rights of the most vulnerable among us.

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A new state law, signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in June, calls for the state attorneys of every circuit to create elder abuse death review teams, with the goal of identifying systemic problems and reducing the risk of Florida nursing home abuse and neglect. These teams, comprised of not only prosecutors but experts in the medical field and elder care providers, will review closed death cases in which elder abuse was suspected or alleged to determine whether legal or policy changes could prevent such tragedy from recurring.West Palm Beach nursing home abuse attorneys

Cases need not have been successfully prosecuted to be forwarded to the review team. As our West Palm Beach nursing home injury lawyers understand, the idea is to identify and address local gaps in services to elderly and vulnerable populations. The purpose isn’t to facilitate criminal charges or even civil proceedings. It will not be an investigative branch of the state attorney’s office, but rather will only be able to make recommendations. The teams will report their findings and recommendations to the governor, state lawmakers and state Department of Children and Families annually on Nov. 1st. Proponents of the new law say it’s taken four years to gain sufficient support to pass the measure. Continue reading

One of the main underlying causes of elder abuse and neglect is nursing home understaffing. When a skilled nursing facility doesn’t have the staff necessary to provide each patient with an adequate level of care, it’s going to result in frustration, fatigue and mistakes. Stressed and overworked staffers are also more prone to commit acts of abuse. West Palm Beach nursing home injury lawyer

As our West Palm Beach nursing home injury lawyers can explain, understaffing is far from a new problem. A 2002 article published in the Journal of the National Medical Association found that more than 90 percent of nursing homes were understaffed back then.

Studies show that those who reside in a nursing home that is understaffed are at higher risk for:

  • Bedsores
  • Dehydration
  • Malnutrition/weight loss
  • Infections
  • Falls

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Falls are a leading cause of death among older Americans, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and South Florida injury attorneys know nursing home residents are especially susceptible. They’re more likely to be immobile or require significant assistance in moving just to complete basic tasks and functions. They are more likely to be in poorer health to start with, and in turn may have a more difficult time recovering.nursing home falls West Palm Beach

None of this, however, should be understood to mean that nursing home falls are inevitable or that nursing home staff is not responsible to take adequate prevention measures. In fact, nursing home operators have a responsibility to make sure patients don’t fall. That’s because the likelihood of falls as a result of certain conditions/failure to meet care standards is known. The fact that such a fall can result in serious injury? That’s known too. Complications from falls are known to lead to pain, functional impairment, disability and death among nursing home residents.  For this reason, Florida nursing home injury attorneys can assert that falls and resulting injuries in a nursing home setting are a foreseeable consequence of things like:

  • Inadequate staffing of nursing homes.
  • Inadequate training of staffers.
  • Inadequate supervision of nursing home staff.
  • Failure to provide the proper resources necessary.

Even if the nursing home itself was not negligent in causing a nursing home fall, the entity can still be held vicariously liable if any of its staffers were. There is an old Latin legal concept we still use today in Florida known as as respondeat superior, which means “let the master answer.” In other words, if the employee was negligent in the course of carrying out his or her job, the employer can be found liable also. Continue reading

Neglect of an elder dependent is a crime in Florida  – a very serious one if it results in severe injury or death. However, as detailed recently in an enterprise investigation by USA TODAY NETWORK – FLORIDA, the odds of prosecution or even arrest for neglectful nursing home caregivers are slim.  In fact, none of the nursing home deaths state regulators attributed to caregiver neglect resulted in arrest or prosecution. Further, at least one state attorney curiously cited the option of a Florida nursing home wrongful death lawsuit as being the more “suitable” remedy in these cases – even as neglectful caregivers accused of similar acts in other states with comparable criminal laws on the books routinely face felony charges.West Palm Beach nursing home neglect

As long-time West Palm Beach nursing home neglect attorneys helping survivors and family members pursue civil injury and wrongful death claims, the report isn’t especially shocking nor does it directly impact our cases. Lack of accountability, though, could mean residents in Florida nursing homes are at higher risk of neglect and abuse.

Journalists across the state scoured records of all 54 nursing home patient deaths from 2013 through 2017 that were red-flagged by the Florida Department of Children and Families as resulting from caregiver neglect, abuse or failed oversight. Not a single person was prosecuted in any of those deaths. Even when police recommended caregivers face felony charges like criminal neglect and manslaughter, prosecutors declined. Continue reading

A recent government audit revealed more than 1 in 4 cases of possible sexual and physical abuse of nursing home patients was never reported to police. The inspector general’s office for the Department of Health and Human Services largely placed the blame on Medicare for failing to enforce a federal law requiring immediate notification of authorities, including law enforcement and state health departments. nursing home abuse lawyer

The inspector general released an “Early Alert” on the matter, which is part of a larger ongoing investigation into nursing home abuse and neglect. Florida was among the states included in the large sampling of cases. Given the Florida Health Care Association’s report that the population of those over 65 will double by 2026 and that 69 percent of those are anticipated to need some type of long-term care, this is not an issue we can afford to ignore.

While the number of nursing home residents continues to climb – it’s currently at 1.4 million – issues with quality of care are ongoing. And even though there is an increasing awareness about the potential dangers, serious violations of patients’ rights continue.  Continue reading

Corporations love arbitration agreements. Whether it’s a cell phone contract or an employment agreement, compelling people to give up their right to take any future disputes to court is advantageous to these firms.

But as our nursing home abuse attorneys have come to know, people often don’t realize what they’re signing. Arbitration agreements tend to be buried in a mountain of paperwork. This is especially true in cases where nursing homes require new residents/ representatives to sign such paperwork upon admission. nursing home abuse

Although the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the validity of nursing home arbitration agreements in the May 2017 case of Kindred Nursing Centers v. Clark, an Obama-era final rule via the Centers for Medicaid Services (CMS) prohibited nursing homes that accepted Medicaid (almost all of them) from forcing residents to sign one.

That is now changing with new directives from the Trump administration, much to the sharp consternation of elder care advocates.  Continue reading

945156_wheelchair.jpgAccording to a Miami-Dade County Grand Jury says that the Agency for Health Care Administration must take more aggressive measures to crack down on assisted living facilities to make sure that they comply with the dry rules and regulations. The grand jury believes that more needs to be done to protect ALF residents from Florida nursing home abuse and neglect.

The inquiry came after the Miami Herald published an investigative series about the poor oversight of nearly 3,000 ALF’s. The newspaper found that the state has neglected to properly regulate Florida nursing homes and investigate allegations of neglect and abuse, while allowing many of the worst offenders to stay open. In the last 10 years, there have been at least 70 deaths from Florida nursing home negligence.

In South Florida, do not hesitate to contact our Miami nursing home neglect and abuse lawyers if you suspect that your loved one is the victim of Florida nursing home negligence.

According to the Sun-Sentinel, in the wake of the Palm Beach Post’s investigation into the Council on Aging of Florida Inc. in 2009 over allegations of executive pay abuses and Florida nursing home negligence, the state’s Attorney General’s Office is still conducting its own “active investigation.”

The probe also comes following a whistleblower complaint filed by the chain’s ex-chief human resources officer. Richard Castillo says he was fired because he cooperated with the state’s probe. He is now seeking over $75,000 in damages.

The assisted living facilities under investigation include Glades Health Care Center in Pahokee, Riverfront Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Bradenton, and Gainesville Health Care Center. Also, at the Gainesville facility, maggots were found in one 76-year-old patient’s eye socket last year. Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration cited the assisted living facility for not telling a doctor about problems while changing the resident’s eye dressings. Our Palm Beach nursing home abuse lawyers posted a blog about this incident last year. Gainesville Healthcare Center, which has ownership connections to Treasure Coast and Palm Beach County, has been flagged for numerous violations in the past by the state.

Nursing Home Patients, Maggots, and Negligent Nursing Care
Unfortunately, finding maggots in a nursing home patient’s wound is not as rare of an occurrence as you would like to think. Unhygienic conditions are one reason why maggots develop in wounds. Basic monitoring and nursing care can prevent such unfortunate incidents from happening. It is important in the wake of such an infestation for a wound to be cleared up immediately.

Our Miami nursing home neglect and abuse lawyers represent nursing home residents and their families throughout South Florida. Assisted living facilities can be held liable for failing to provide a patient with adequate nursing care-especially if this lead to serious injuries, infection, health complications, or death.

Other signs of possible negligent nursing care:
• Poor hygiene
• Malnutrition
• Soiled sheets that aren’t change right away
• Unclean living conditions
• Failure to clean/dress wounds in a timely manner
• Not giving patients medicines as scheduled
• Failure to monitor patient’s condition
• Failure to check patient’s sugar levels, blood pressure, cholesterol, and other vitals and symptoms.

Nursing home chain target of attorney general’s inquiry, Sun-Sentinel, October 17, 2011
Maggots In Wounds

Florida Nursing Home Guide

Nursing Home Watch List, Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration

More Blog Posts:
Florida Nursing Home Neglect?: Maggots Found in 76-Year-Old Patient at Assisted Living Facility with Palm Beach County Ties, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blog, September 14, 2010
Boynton Beach Nursing Home Neglect Lawsuit Blames Assisted Living Facility for Elderly Woman’s Bedsores, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blog, September 30, 2011
Miami Herald Reports: Florida Nursing Home Neglect Taking Place at a Number of Assisted Living Facilities, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blog, May 25, 2011
Bill Seeks to Cap Florida Nursing Home Negligence Damages Over Wrongful Deaths, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blog, April 20, 2011 Continue reading

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