Articles Posted in nursing home negligence

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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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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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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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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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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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The admissions paperwork required of a new nursing home patient is substantial and sometimes overwhelming. There are reams of medical forms, releases of information and waivers. It’s a stressful time, so many new patients and/ or family members go through the motions of just getting through it all. What many might not realize is that tucked in there somewhere is probably a form known as an arbitration agreement. By signing that agreement the patient and/or patient representatives agree to forego the right to a jury trial if a dispute later arises between the patient/ representatives and the nursing home. This includes disputes regarding allegations of nursing home abuse, neglect or negligence. nursing home arbitration agreement

Signing over that right is a big deal because arbitration is usually less favorable to patients on many fronts. That’s why so many nursing home abuse attorneys will vehemently argue that even if there is an arbitration agreement, it’s not enforceable for one reason or another. It requires an injury lawyer or wrongful death attorney who is also well-versed in contract law. These are questions you need to ask of any lawyer with whom you’re consulting and considering to hire.

In a recent case out of West Virginia, the state supreme court ruled in AMFM LLC v. Shanklin that an arbitration agreement signed by the daughter of a patient could be enforced – despite daughter’s protests that she did not have actual authority to enter into the agreement because she held only the alternate durable power of attorney for her mother; her brother was actually the one with primary durable powers of attorney. Although the trial court denied the nursing home’s motion to dismiss on these grounds, the state supreme court reversed.  Continue reading →

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Medication errors occur far too frequently in a range of medical settings and nursing homes aren’t immune. A medication error can be any preventable event that results in inappropriate medication use or harm to patient while it’s being prescribed or administered to patient under a professional’s care.nursing home medication error

Nursing home medication errors frequently have to do with patients receiving the wrong medication, inappropriate prescriptions (particularly of anti-psychotic medications), patients not receiving the proper dose of medications or medication doses being missed entirely.

Some of the underlying causes, as underlying by Michigan University Hospitals, includes problems with verbal orders, poor handwriting, improper selection of drugs, missed medications, incorrect scheduling, look-alike or sound-alike drugs, drug interactions, stressful work environment and a lack of computer support. Continue reading →

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