Articles Posted in nursing home abuse

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The question of whether individual nursing homes or state law should allow “hidden” cameras is being raised again in light of footage captured by the family of a 94-year-old resident of a Pompano Beach facility.nursing home abuse

According to ABC Local 10 News, a certified nursing assistant (CNA) is seen struggling to get the man (who has dementia) off the bed. In the process, she causes him to fall into a chair. She then hits him on the head. In another clip, a CNA is seeing pouring mouthwash all over the man. This footage was especially telling because mouthwash contains alcohol. Alcohol dries out the skin, which can cause or exacerbate skin ulcers and bed sores. This particular individual suffered from stage three bedsores, and ultimately died from them, his family’s attorney now says. They are suing for wrongful death.

The man’s daughter said it was the camera that confirmed her worst fears. As her attorney noted, 99 percent of the time, the nursing home will deny any maltreatment. Absent any proof, some cases can be difficult to pursue, which makes the hidden camera evidence all the more valuable. It serves as undeniable proof of wrongdoing.  Continue reading →

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Nursing home safety advocates are calling on Florida lawmakers to pass an amendment to the state constitution that would guarantee certain rights to vulnerable residents in nursing homes and assisted living centers.nursing home injury

An incident of nursing home negligence in Orlando last year – resulting in a recently announced $1 million fine by federal authorities – is the latest to spark discussion of the need for such change. According to the Orlando Sentinel, the facility assigned a single assistant to supervise a trip to a local super store with nine residents – all of whom required around-the-clock care, five of whom were in wheelchairs and three who used walkers. One needed the bathroom but the assistant was nowhere to be found, so the man attempted it on his own. He ultimately lost control of his bowels and his balance, suffering a broken hip. When the attendant rushed to aid the man,  he neglected the others.

It was this incident (along with another wherein a patient did not receive important medical treatment) that resulted in a government investigation and subsequent fine. Nearly two dozen health code violations were cited, and the facility earned a spot on the national watch list of facilities that don’t correct repeat issues. Despite the fine, advocates for safer nursing homes say it doesn’t go far enough. They want a formal bill of rights added to the constitution, where it could not be easily rolled back by lawmakers or future presidential administrations squeezed or swayed by nursing home industry lobbyists and stakeholders.

One of those calling for change leads a national nursing home advocacy group, and says the public is largely unaware about the way these facilities are run and the risk they pose to residents. He noted it’s telling that even 12 nursing home resident deaths of heat-related illness after Hurricane Irma – all classified as homicides – were not enough to spur industry change. The facility may yet lose its license and Gov. Rick Scott has asked the facilities to maintain backup generators that can provide at nearly 100 hours of fuel so temperatures can stay at a safe level in the event the power goes out for an extended time. The governor has also asked for the panel that combs the state’s constitution every two decades for a determination potential changes pertaining to the protection of nursing home residents. Proposal 88 is now being considered by the commission and is the public hearings stage. If the panel approves it, the issue then goes to voters this fall.  Continue reading →

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Financial exploitation of the elderly is a serious and growing problem in Florida, where the aging population is expanding and there are increasingly fewer resources to help protect them. A new bill being considered by both state and house representatives (SB 1562/ CS/HB 1059) has been winding its way through various committees, so far gaining unanimous support. elderly financial abuse attorney

The bill is called Exploitation of a Vulnerable Adult (as it protects primarily but not only the elderly) and would establish a cause of action for injunction for protection of adults vulnerable to exploitation, and establishes penalties for willful violations. It seems to protect vulnerable adults over 18 who are impaired in performing daily activities or in their ability to care for or protect themselves due to mental, emotional, sensory, long-term physical or developmental disabilities or dysfunctions, brain damage or infirmity due to aging.

There are currently a few existing laws that outline protections against financial abuse of the elderly. For instance, current statute gives the Florida Department of Children and Families authority to initiate investigation of abuse, neglect or exploitation reports. Further, F.S. 415.111 allows for civil remedy (a lawsuit) for vulnerable adults who have been abused, neglected or exploited to pursue litigation against any perpetrator to recover both actual and punitive damages. Guardians or a personal representative acting on behalf of the individual can also pursue such a claim. Parties who prevail may be entitled to also be compensated for attorney’s fees, costs of the action and damages. Continue reading →

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Financial abuse of nursing home patients, also referred to as financial exploitation, occurs when someone illegally or improperly uses an elderly person’s funds, assets or property. In some cases, this is a nursing home employee. In other instances, it involves a person from whom the nursing home had a duty to protect the patient. elder financial abuse

It’s well-established that nursing home residents are in a unique and vulnerable position to be victims of financial abuse. They may have considerable assets, but they are often especially vulnerable to deception. Residents are often not even aware that the financial exploitation is taking place. That’s why there is so seldom accountability.

One exception to this occurred recently in Missouri, where local news outlets reported a nursing home employee was sentenced to 10 years in prison for financial abuse that included stealing Medicaid checks and other property.  Continue reading →

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One of the greatest impediments to preventing nursing home abuse is the culture of secrecy in which so many facilities operate. An increasing number are for-profit ventures, too often concerned more about their bottom line than the health and well-being of the patients they serve. Reports or solid evidence of abuse has the potential to threaten those profits, giving administrators an incentive to quiet these reports before they surface. nursing home abuse

We see evidence of this in employment action lawsuits that have arisen in recent years. A recent example was reported in Illinois, where McKnights Long Term Care News reports a nurse was awarded $5.2 million after her termination from a nursing home, shortly following her reporting of alleged patient abuse.

Plaintiff in that case was a licensed practical nurse (LPN) at a nursing home in late 2012 when she was fired by her employer, a for-profit nursing home company that operates nearly 55 facilities. She alleged she was terminated because she refused to follow orders by the director of the nursing home to “drop a pill,” which was understood to mean give a double dose of anti-anxiety medications to patients who were agitated. The LPN also alleged she had refused to omit or delete any records that contained suspicious injuries incurred by residents.  Continue reading →

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Nursing home negligence – taking forms of both neglect and abuse – is not new, but it is something that has been increasingly drawn into the light in recent years.  Still, some advocates have expressed frustration with the seemingly snail-paced progress when it comes to protections for nursing home residents. There is of course the possibility of filing a negligence lawsuit against the nursing home following the physical or emotional abuse or neglect of a loved one, but advocates are hoping to get changes made to prevent these all too frequent incidents before they occur.

nursing home abuse lawyerThese advocates have been hoping the wide-spread outcry to reports of nursing home deaths following hurricane Irma can add fire to their cause, as are the new reports pertaining to these needless deaths in one Florida nursing home that has been making headlines. According to a recent news article from Claims Journal, an insurance company trade publication, the temperature at the nursing home at which 12 residents died was 99 degrees Fahrenheit when they died. Continue reading →

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When older adults get to the point when it becomes impractical to remain in the home, or the same happens to younger people with serious medical conditions, a nursing home may be the best option. When we take our loved ones to a nursing home, we expect they will be well-cared for by professionals and given the dignity and respect they deserve.

Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Unfortunately, this is not always the case in nursing homes that are sometimes more interested in making money than properly caring for residents who are in much need of care.  According to a recent news article from the Sun Sentinel, lawmakers are not happy with current regulations following some highly-published deaths that occurred following hurricane Irma. Many urge more must be done to protect Florida nursing home residents, not only in times of crisis, but year-round.  Continue reading →

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Florida is known to have some of the broadest public records laws in the country. That extended to nursing home abuse and neglect records, kept by state health regulators. However, as The Miami Herald recently reported, those records have been wiped from the state’s online database, in what appears to be an erosion in public records access. nursing home abuse

Approximately three months ago, The Herald reported, the state scrubbed its website, which previously made readily accessible reports of nursing home violations that put residents in immediate jeopardy. It’s not that the records themselves are no longer public. Anyone can contact the Agency for Health Care Administration and ask for it. However, you have to know exactly what you’re looking for and whom to ask. You will most likely be required to wait and you’ll probably have to pay – something that was not required previously under the state’s online system.

On the pages that previously provided such information for free, the AHCA now directs the public to a different site run by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. That site fails to provide as much detail as the AHCA had before (though all reports had been screened and redacted for medical privacy). And while the AHCA does offer basic spreadsheets that rank nursing homes on a host of criteria, providing families with some basis on which to compare, but these reports are scant on details and lack transparency. Continue reading →

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It’s a sad reality in Florida nursing home abuse cases for the person who suffered to die, whether due to frailty or age or directly because of the abuse or neglect endured. In these cases, there may be several avenues for legal action. nursing home abuse

When a person survives nursing home abuse, it’s fairly straightforward: It’s a personal injury lawsuit. Nursing home injury cases can be a little more complex than other types of torts because they sometimes stem from some medical malpractice, which could complicate matters in terms of the statute of limitations (2 years, as opposed to the 4 allowed in personal injury cases). Further, medical malpractice cases require more evidence, as well as expert witnesses.

However, things can get a bit more complicated when the person who was victimized dies. The two primary avenues for compensation are:

  • Wrongful death lawsuit;
    Survival action.

Continue reading →

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Nursing home facilities have a responsibility to ensure that staffers are adequately screened, trained and supervised. It appears, at least according to a six-month investigation by journalists in Northern Texas, that hundreds of certified nursing assistants with serious or violent criminal histories have been hired to care for elderly and vulnerable patients in the region’s nursing homes.nursing home abuse lawyer

Further, the report by WFAA-8 revealed many of these individuals were working in the homes legally. There were, however, several instances in which the nursing assistants were convicted of certain offenses that should have made them ineligible to work in that capacity, yet they were hired anyway. All of this, advocates fear, is putting residents at risk of nursing home abuse.

Some of the crimes for which the CNAs were convicted included things like continuous violence against family, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated sexual contact with a child and injury to a child. Other crimes included offenses that involved theft, like burglary and aggravated robbery. The analysis also indicated Texas’ rate of nursing home abuse was four times that of the national average. Still, to assume this problem is isolated to Texas would be erroneous.  Continue reading →

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