Articles Posted in nursing home abuse

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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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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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A study published recently by Human Rights Watch reveals roughly 180,000 nursing home residents are being given antipsychotic drugs, despite the fact they have not been diagnosed with conditions like schizophrenia, which the medications are specifically designed to treat. nursing home abuse lawyer

In many instances, a strong case could be made for medical malpractice or nursing home abuse negligence, depending on the circumstances and the harm suffered by the patient. Most nursing home residents have either Alzheimer’s disease or some form of dementia, but antipsychotic medication is not approved for treatment of those illnesses. Furthermore, these medications come with a U.S. Food & Drug Administration “black box warning,” indicating these medications may put those with dementia and similar conditions at risk of death.

Researchers concluded the drugs were administered despite lack of informed consent and rather than for the benefit of the patient, for the benefit of the facility and its staffers – to make patients easier to manage when the nursing homes are understaffed. The drugs have a sedative effect, and that, rather than any other medical benefit they might have, is largely while they are so prevalent in nursing homes. The problem is they also alter one’s consciousness, meaning they can negatively impact a person’s ability to interact with others. They can also make it much easier for someone working in an understaffed facility to care for these patients – particularly if they aren’t properly trained. As our nursing home abuse lawyers in Orlando know, a great many nursing homes have staffing levels that fall far below what is considered necessary to provide a minimum level of care. Continue reading →

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Nursing home abuse is often characterized as mistreatment of a vulnerable, elderly resident at the hands of caregivers and other staffers. However, about one in five nursing home abuse incidents involve other residents. One study published in 2016 revealed verbal taunts, physical assaults and sexual assaults were all part of the abuse those residents suffered at the hands of other residents.nursing home abuse

We saw it recently here in Florida, when The Gainesville Sun reported one facility was forced to halt admissions after two fatal incidents, one a fall and another the brutal beating of an 86-year-old resident by a 52-year-old resident with a traumatic brain injury. The younger man reportedly knocked the older man to the ground – twice – and over a two-minute stretch, while no staffers were anywhere in sight, the younger man pummeled the older victim no fewer than 56 times. The catalyst for the fight, according to news reports, was that the younger man believed the older resident had eaten his cupcake.

At the time of the incident, no staff member was attending to residents in that unit and there was no one in charge of monitoring video surveillance for that unit. By the time the staff finally got there, the beating was over. That particular 45-bed facility has a long history of resident safety violations over the last five years. Two administrators were arrested in late 2015 in separate incidents reportedly involving patient neglect. After the beating and the fatal fall, an administrator reportedly broke down while being interviewed by police, telling investigators she was “overwhelmed,” had a short staff and the employees she did have were poorly trained.  Continue reading →

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The number of for-profit corporate nursing homes (as opposed to non-profit facilities) has risen sharply over the last several decades, complicating efforts to hold facilities accountable for substandard care. Worse yet, these centers have a higher rate of poor care because they tend to value profits over the vulnerable people in their charge. Beyond that, owners of these corporate nursing homes often have a stake in other companies contracted to provide goods and services to the patients – everything from physical therapy to drugs to management to staffers. nursing home abuse

A recent analysis by Kaiser Health News and The New York Times explored how these “corporate webs” not only lessen the quality of care, but also make it more difficult for those seeking compensation for nursing home abuse and nursing home neglect.

Almost three-quarters of nursing homes in the U.S. have this kind of business arrangement, referred to as related party transactions. In some instances, facilities will contract out very basic functions, such as management of the facility or rent from their property. Those who run these organizations say it’s a means of simplifying operations and reducing corporate taxes. But of course, there is more to it. The owners of these facilities can score contracts they might not otherwise be able to land in a market that is more competitive, and from there, they can reap more profits that aren’t recorded in the nursing home’s financial records. While a typical non-profit nursing home might take home a profit somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 to 4 percent, owners of facilities with these related party transaction arrangements take home a profit margin of around 28 percent.  Continue reading →

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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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