Legislative reforms that would have meant relief for victims of nursing home abuse and neglect in Davie and elsewhere in Florida have died in the Senate.
Our Davie nursing home abuse attorneys are disappointed that these efforts failed to get off the ground in a state where they are so desperately needed.
Some background: A revealing three-part series by The Miami Herald last year found that the state is the scene of an inordinate number of abuse and neglect incidents at nursing homes. In fact, since 2002, there have been some 70 cases of death directly resulting from abuse and neglect at Florida nursing homes. These incidents included:
–A 71-year-old woman with mental illness at a Washington County facility wondered from her bed to a nearby pond and drowned after the nursing home director, accused of a litany of other abuses, fell asleep;
–A 74-year-old woman in Kendall was found for more than six hours, with the restraints so tight it ripped her skin and ultimately killed her;
–A 71-year-old man in Hialeah with mental illness died from burns after he was left in a bathtub with scalding hot water;
–A 75-year-old man in Clearwater was killed by an alligator after wondering from his assisted-living facility for the fourth time.
Each of these incidents were entirely preventable, and in their wake, residents rightly called for state reform.
Now, however, the state has let them down. The reforms would have protected nursing home residents in the following ways:
–Allowed an appeals process that would have protected residents from being evicted from the home if they complained to authorities about living conditions;
–Mandated that facilities with a a certain number of dangerous violations be closed;
–Require caregivers to be credentialed;
–To require a fine of up to $10,000 any violation that results in a patient’s death.
The state’s Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA), which inspects and licenses nursing home facilities, has gone on record as saying the state has plenty of laws already in place.
But then why are so many individuals continuing to be harmed by nursing home abuse and neglect in Florida?
Advocates fear that waiting any longer to pass these reforms is going to result in a return to business as usual for these facilities. There was such outrage following the Herald article. But as often happens with headlines, they fade. So does the interest. People forget.
And all of this couldn’t come at a worse time: cuts in Medicaid reimbursements are ongoing – and severe. What that means is that facilities are cutting back on activities, maintenance and staff. That means a diminishing level of care and oversight within these homes. That translates to a higher rate of abuses and less people to do anything about it.
The bills may be dead this year, but you can still contact your representatives and let them know how important these issues are to you. Go to www.myfloridahouse.gov, find your representative and let them know that nursing home reform is a critical issue in the state of Florida that must be addressed.
If you or a loved one have been a victim of nursing home abuse in Davie or surrounding areas, please contact Freeman & Mallard for a free and confidential appointment. Call Freeman & Mallard today at 1-800-561-7777.
NEGLECTED TO DEATH | Part 1: Once pride of Florida; now scenes of neglect, By Rob Barry, Michael Sallah and Carol Marbin Miller, The Miami Herald
Hope wanes for major assisted-living reforms in Florida, By Kate Santich, Orlando Sentinel