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A Congressional committee is slated to hold a hearing to examine emerging patterns of nursing home abuse, neglect and general substandard care revealed recently by government regulators and media outlets.nursing home abuse lawyer

According to McKnights Long-Term Care News, lawmakers want to determine whether the Centers or Medicare & Medicaid Services has fallen short in its responsibility to manage safety at nursing homes throughout the country.

The subcommittee chairman on Oversight and Investigations for the U.S. House of Representatives pointed out there have been numerous reports in recent months detailing “horrific” cases of nursing home abuse, neglect and other patient harm occurring in nursing homes in recent years. Specifically, he highlighted the Florida nursing home negligence case in Hollywood Hills wherein more than a dozen residents died following a hurricane last year after the nursing home failed to obtain swift assistance when the air conditioning system broke down and residents suffered numerous heat-related illnesses. There was an operational hospital directly across the street.

The sub-committee chair said these and other incidents have raised serious questions about whether CMS is adequately fulfilling its responsibility to make certain care standards are met, particularly for the most vulnerable elderly residents – particularly those with disabling conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. Continue reading →

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Federal data shows what our nursing home neglect attorneys in Orlando have long known: The majority of nursing homes have fewer care-taking staff and nurses than what they had reported to government regulators. It’s well-established that the fewer individuals on the care-taking staff, the higher the risk the elderly and vulnerable residents will suffer abuse or neglect.nursing home abuse

We often have family members who suspect that staffing levels at their loved one’s nursing home were inadequate, but are often not provided with straight answers by the facility. In some cases, they may be flat-out deceived.

Where evidence of inadequate staffing levels exists, it can go a long way in proving negligence. It’s not difficult to understand that when a patient’s needs are significant (as most nursing home residents are), it’s going to take time to adequately meet those needs. When there aren’t enough staffers, day-to-day care can fall by the wayside. This can result in substantial injuries and illnesses, such as pressure ulcers, falls and major dental problems. Continue reading →

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Allegations of rampant nursing home neglect at four facilities followed reports of remarkable soaring profits in the two years after a new owner took over. This doesn’t surprise our Orlando nursing home abuse attorneys in the least, given that the growing number of for-profit nursing homes tend to far more understaffed and rake in higher profit margins than those operating on a not-for-profit basis. It all comes down to the clear incentive corporate owners have to reduce costs and fatten their own pockets. However, they do so at the expense of properly caring for the most vulnerable elderly residents. nursing home abuse

According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, one of the nursing homes in question went from roughly breaking even in the two years before the new owner took over to suddenly being the No. 2 most profitable nursing home in the region. Soon after, officials say, the quality of care provided to nursing home residents plummeted. In September, state investigators who inspected the facility reported it was so awful at one, the neglect so pervasive, officials decided to shut it down and revoke its license. Such a measure is rarely taken against nursing homes, even those found to be responsible for neglect and abuse.

One of the local nursing home abuse attorneys in that region was quoted by the newspaper as saying the executive officer of the nursing home chain (who operates a management group based out of New York) was making heaps of profits, which was only possible through nursing home understaffing. The attorney said (as our Orlando nursing home abuse lawyers have also seen here) that when staffing in a nursing home facility are cut, it directly and negatively impacts both the quality of care and quality of life for nursing home residents.  Continue reading →

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In nursing home negligence cases, an increasing number of these for-profit facilities have complicated corporate structures. The primary company that benefits financially is not necessarily the one that actually manages the day-to-day operations. The reason for this is very intentional, and it has to do with how whether and to what degree those companies can be held responsible when nursing home abuse or neglect takes place. nursing home abuse

When a nursing home staffer commits abuse or neglect, the employer can be held responsible in one of two ways: Direct negligence or vicarious liability. In a situation of direct negligence, it may be established the employer nursing home failed to properly vet the employee or didn’t have the right systems in place to supervise its workers or the patients. Vicarious liability, meanwhile, stems from the common law principle of repondeat superior, which is Latin for, “let the master answer.” While plaintiff must prove negligence by the employer in the first case, one need not prove negligence by the employer for a finding of vicarious liability. Instead, they need only show the employee was negligent or committed an intentional tort while acting in the course and scope of employment. This difference may also be important when it comes to the question of damages (which is how much money is paid).

Recently, the Tennessee Court of Appeals partially reversed a nearly $30 million damage award to a plaintiff in a nursing home wrongful death case alleging negligence and medical malpractice (technically in that state referred to as “health care liability”). The court vacated the damage award and remanded for a new hearing as to the amount of punitive damages to be awarded. (Punitive damages in Florida, F.S. 768.72, as in Tennessee, are awarded not to compensate for actual losses by plaintiff, but to penalize the defendant for gross negligence or intentional misconduct.) Continue reading →

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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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