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Adult children making the difficult choice to place their elderly parents in a Florida nursing home often turn to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) when it comes to deciding on a facility. The federal agency has established a Five-Star Quality Rating System to assist consumers, their families and caregivers in order to compare nursing homes and help them more easily identify potential problems. Those with the highest ratings are considered to be top quality, while those at the lower end may have been cited for repeated deficiencies and issues that place residents in direct harm.nursing home abuse attorney Orlando

However, as a recent story out of Illinois shows, even those scores don’t necessarily tell the whole story. The Des Moines Register reported that despite a proposed fine $30,000 by the state for nursing home conditions allegedly leading to the death of an 87-year-old resident, CMS still gave the facility a five-star rating in terms of quality of resident care. It’s overall rating was two stars, which is considered below average.

The woman reportedly died after suffering from dehydration and severe pain. State authorities opined she may not have had water for several days. Yet the fine hasn’t actually been imposed, which would allow CMS to take over the case. It’s not the first time the nursing home has come under fire. Last year, the state fined the facility for physical and verbal abuse of the residents. The fact that it still has a five-star rating for care has many wondering the measures by which CMS decides one’s ranking and whether they are truly reliable, particularly considering they are based in part on data self-reported by the nursing homes and not verified by state officials.  Continue reading →

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Before the arrest of a small assisted living facility owner in West Palm Beach on charges of elder abuse and neglect, daughters of two of the residents had tried to alert authorities. The Palm Beach Post reports the women filed at least three complaints with the Florida Department of Children and Families regarding the level of care at the facility, alleging unexplained injury to their mother, poor food quality (hot dogs and expired frozen fish) and furniture that smelled like urine. In one instance, when staffers reportedly refused to change her mother’s diaper, one of the women attempted to do it on her own – only to be forced by the owner to leave. Another time, she said she witnessed another resident suffering from dementia being “punished” by being forced to sit in the hot sun facing a backyard fence.nursing home abuse lawyer

They also filed a complaint with the Agency for Health Care Administration, specifically in charge of inspecting both assisted living facilities and nursing homes. When they didn’t get responses, they petitioned the court to have their parents returned to their home (they had been deemed incapacitated and had an unrelated court-appointed guardian). The court dismissed their complaint as unfounded.

Then, the facility owner was arrested on charges of unlawfully restraining elderly female residents to their beds and leaving the residents alone overnight. The investigation was only sparked after a service provider of the facility snapped some photos of one resident restrained to her bed. That individual also alleged the owner was sexually molesting residents at night, though the 52-year-old does not face any such charges. Residents have since been removed from the facility (owned by defendant and his wife), and a moratorium has been placed on accepting new residents. Continue reading →

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Most of Florida’s nursing homes and assisted living facilities have not yet acquired generator backup for air conditioning this hurricane season, despite a state law mandating they do so by a deadline of June 1st. That’s according to information from the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA), as reported by AARP.nursing home injury attorney

This mandate came about after the devastating hurricane season we had last year, during which 12 residents of a nursing home in Hollywood died when the facility went days without power in sweltering temperatures without seeking outside assistance – despite the fact that there was an air-conditioned hospital right across the street, sparking national outrage. State lawmakers passed a measure requiring facilities to secure an emergency power source on site and also to have a written plan in the event of evacuation in the event similar circumstances arise in the future (as they are likely to do). The law also stipulates that nursing home generator backup systems must function to keep facilities at a stable temperature of at or below 81 degrees for 96 hours after an outage of power.

As of one week prior to the deadline, only about 100 of Florida’s nearly 700 nursing homes had met the new statutory standards. Fewer than 350 requested an extension from the state. Of the more than 3,100 assisted living centers in Florida, only 205 met the requirements by deadline, with about 350 asking for more time. The nursing homes and assisted living facilities that are granted an extension will have another six months. But of course, as our Fort Lauderdale nursing home injury lawyers probably don’t need to point out, this will be well past the 2018 hurricane season, which means scores of vulnerable and elderly residents will be at risk of a tragic repeat, which occurred in the wake of last year’s monster storm amid an especially active season.

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A 98-year-old woman reportedly died a painful death after extended exposure to the Florida sun at the West Palm Beach nursing home where she resided. According to a nursing home neglect lawsuit filed by her granddaughter recently, the woman had been left unattended for an undetermined period of time. She had worked her whole life laboring in fields, picking vegetables in the Sunshine State. But in her frail state, her skin blistered in the sun as her body temperature rose. By the time she was discovered and rushed to a nearby hospital, she was unresponsive, her internal temperature was 103.2 degrees. She was suffering from severe hydration, heat stroke and second-degree burns covered her mouth, arms, and shoulders. nursing home heatstroke Florida

An investigation with the Department of Children and Families determined the woman had been inadequately supervised. The county medical examiner in Palm Beach opined she’d died due to hyperthermia, resulting from heat and sun exposure. However to date, nursing home abuse lawyers can find no evidence the facility or its staffers have been held accountable through typical channels. DCF’s investigation is closed (without reaching a finding as to the length of time decedent was exposed to the elements unsupervised), but that of the West Palm Beach police is still active. The state’s nursing home regulator, Agency for Health Care Administration, didn’t respond to the Palm Beach Post’s request for comment or insight.

The nursing home and granddaughter paint two very different pictures of the woman’s abilities and mental state. The home’s executive director stated that although the woman did use a wheelchair, she was able to get in and out of the facility on her own. The director also suggested it may have been possible, given the woman’s health history, that paramedics provided her en route to the hospital with a medication to which she suffered an allergic reaction. Continue reading →

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The owner of an assisted living facility in West Palm Beach is accused of elder abuse after police allege residents were left restrained and unattended overnight. Defendant, 52, was arrested on felony elder abuse charges. nursing home abuse

Such actions, if proven, unquestionably places residents at grave risk of suffering serious injury and illness. Criminal definitions of and penalties for lacking supervision and abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult is outlined in F.S. 825.102. Abuse involves physical or psychological injury on an elder/ disabled adult, an intentional act that may reasonably be expected to result in such injury or active encouragement of such an act. Certainly, the act of which defendant is accused would rise to that level. Elder neglect differs slightly, defined as an omission or failure to provide an elder adult with basic necessities (i.e., food, nutrition, clothing, shelter, supervision, medicine and medical services) or failure to reasonably protect one from abuse, neglect or exploitation from another.

In this case, according to The Palm Beach Post, the facility has just six beds and was already under heightened scrutiny from state officials following an inspection in late February indicating numerous deficiencies. Among those: Failure to complete health assessments of those residing at the center to ascertain whether they needed assistance with medication or a dietary change. The center was also cited for not abiding accepted hygiene standards in doling out medications, as a staffer was seen distributing it without first sanitizing his or her hands. The center’s previous license expired shortly before that inspection, and its current license is considered under review.  Continue reading →

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After discovering a 67-year-old dementia patient bound to a chair, duct tape covering her mouth so she wouldn’t scream, a caregiver removed the portion of duct tape over the woman’s mouth – so she could give her sleeping pills. She then removed a small portion of tape that bound the woman’s body, and then discussed with another caregiver – the one who had initially left the patient in that state – that tying a patient to a chair was wrong. Nonetheless, she did not report the incident. nursing home abuse

The first would later explain she’d only done so because the patient was unable to stay quiet or still and she had other patients who required her attention.

That was the account as explained by investigators with the Boynton Beach Police Department, as reported by The Sun Sentinel. Both women, one 44 and another 52, were arrested on charges of false imprisonment and elderly abuse. A third employee is also being investigated as a possible suspect. The victim, police said, was not alert to the time, place or year.  Continue reading →

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Making the decision to place a loved one in the care of a nursing home isn’t easy under any circumstances. At least last year, families in Florida had the benefit of state health regulator reports available easily online. Such reports could reveal nursing home abuse or negligence and help individuals determine whether a facility posed safety issues they wanted to avoid.nursing home abuse lawyer

Then late last year, the state regulators scrubbed their website of this information with no explanation. So for instance, a report of a woman being cared for in a Hialeah Gardens nursing home who committed suicide by jumping 40 feet from her window onto the concrete courtyard below after she hadn’t seen a psychiatrist in weeks, despite medical instructions to the contrary. There was also information indicating that the facility had been responsible for misconduct that played a role in the woman’s death, and in particular had placed that patient and others in a position of “immediate jeopardy.” Prior to the government website being stripped of these reports, one could find the 83 pages of investigative data on this case (with identifying patient information redacted).

The site specifically that had issues is that of the AHCA (Agency for Health Care Administration). Though the information is technically still “public record,” one must know precisely what to ask for and whom to ask – and a wait will be required, along with the potential of being charged for those records. Previously, as noted by the Tampa Bay Times, this information had been available with simply a few keystrokes. Continue reading →

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Most people are familiar with the tragic story of how 12 residents died in a Hollywood nursing home after it lost power due to Hurricane Irma slamming into the region. In that case, the temperatures go to deadly levels and much of the equipment was not functioning. While this particular case has been covered extensively in the media, there is now a focus on preventing a similar tragic incident in the future as we head into the full swing of hurricane season in South Florida once again.

nursing home injury lawyerWhenever a major weather event causes massive power outages, and this can include a major hurricane, a tropical storm, or even severe thunderstorms, local power company workers should be out in force working to restore power. Since some facilities like hospitals, police stations, fire stations, and others are deemed more critical than others in terms of having power quickly restored, there is a priority list maintained by Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) so they can focus on restoring the most essential systems first and then going back and getting everyone else’s power back on. Continue reading →

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Florida’s First District Court of Appeal upheld action from Gov. Rick Scott to shutter a Broward County nursing home that garnered national attention last year following a dozen deaths in the wake of Hurricane Irma.nursing home abuse

The Agency for Health Care Administration issued an immediate moratorium on admissions that blocked the already-evacuated facility from accepting any new residents. The government regulator issued an immediate final suspension order, suspending the facility’s center in the Medicaid program, as well as a suspension order, suspending the facility’s license to operate.

Fighting back with a series of petitions challenging those orders, the facility asserted that each failed to provide sufficient specific factual allegations justifying emergency action. They also alleged the AHCA failed to provide the appropriate administrative hearing. The appellate court ruled the challenge to the immediate moratorium on admissions to the facility was moot in light of the subsequent emergency suspension order which halted the facility’s license to operate, and that the orders to suspend the facility’s access to Medicaid as well as license to operate were sufficiently supported by fact. Further, the court rejected the facility’s argument that it was not given the proper opportunity for a hearing because the record didn’t demonstrate that the facility requested a hearing.  Continue reading →

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A jury recently awarded $7.5 million to the family of an elderly woman who was sexually assaulted while a resident at a nursing home in Pennsylvania. nursing home abuse

According to records from the Pennsylvania Superior Court, plaintiffs (decedent’s daughters and co-administrators of her estate) sued the nursing home where she resided prior to her death, alleging one of the other residents at the center sexually assaulted her during her residency. They accused the nursing home and her alleged abuser for negligence, breach of fiduciary duty and premises liability.

As it turned out, the fellow patient was a registered sex offender before he was accepted into the facility and the abuse began. He was later arrested and pleaded guilty to sexual assault and was sentenced to 8-to-20-years incarceration. Decedent passed away 10 months after the alleged assault from causes unrelated. Plaintiffs alleged defendant facility was aware of the threat posed by the resident and failed to properly supervise him or protect the patient. Continue reading →

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