Articles Posted in nursing home negligence

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The decision place a loved one in an assisted living or nursing home facility is a difficult one with many factors to weigh. When choosing a nursing home in Fort Lauderdale, our South Florida injury attorneys advise not overlooking the facility’s smoking policy and enforcement.Choosing a nursing home in Fort Lauderdale

Recently, The Sun Sentinel reported two nursing home resident injuries at a facility in Plantation following a fire that broke out after a resident was allegedly smoking in his bed. The man, in his 70s, was badly burned and had to be flown to a trauma center burn unit in Miami. His roommate suffered minor burns and smoke inhalation, as did a staff nurse, both treated at a closer Broward County hospital. Some 55 other patients in that wing of the facility had to be evacuated, though were allowed to return a short time later.

This may seem like a “freak accident,” but the reality is nursing home injuries stemming from failure to supervise smoking patients is an ongoing problem that has cropped up repeatedly in Florida and other states. It’s a factor you should especially consider when choosing a nursing home in Fort Lauderdale if your loved one is a smoker or uses electronic cigarettes or vaping devices.

Smoking Standards to Understand When Choosing a Nursing Home in Fort Lauderdale Continue reading →

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An increasing number of personal injury compensation claims against nursing homes involve not just the lack of proper treatment for patients, but also a snowballing trend of pushing elderly patients to receive therapy they don’t actually need. These additional treatments are not harmless, particularly considering patients are elderly, frail and often dying. personal injury compensation guidelines nursing home Florida

A recent elder care report by Bloomberg, detailing research findings in The Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, reveals the percentage of nursing home residents who are receiving rehabilitation classified as “ultrahigh intensity” spiked roughly 65 percent from October 2012 to April 2016. The definition of “high intensity” according to Medicaid, is at least nine hours every week. A therapy that is “ultrahigh intensity” is one that is 12 or more hours weekly. In some instances, study authors reported, patients at nursing homes were receiving the highest intensity of rehabilitative therapy in the very last week of their lives.

The analysis involved data from nearly 650 nursing home facilities and nearly 56,000 long-stay residents who had died – with a specific focus on those who were receiving ultrahigh rehabilitative therapies, specifically physical, occupational and speech therapy – in the month prior to death. These treatments, study authors pointed out, would be those garnering the the fattest payouts to insurers. But it’s unlikely to do much of anything to help the patient.  Continue reading →

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New allegations of nursing home negligence, neglect and wrongful death in South Florida in the wake of Hurricane Irma last year are being alleged against a second facility. If you follow our South Florida nursing home injury lawyer blog or local news, you’re likely familiar with the incident in Broward County that claimed the lives of 12 people, suffering from heat-related illness after the storm knocked out power and caregivers failed to call for assistance. Now, another wrongful death lawsuit – this one in Palm Beach County – alleges virtually the exact same scenario at 114-bed facility just a few cities over. Florida wrongful death attorney

The owner and former executive director are also named as defendants in wrongful death  claim, which stems from the death of plaintiff’s 90-year-old mother. Plaintiff alleges that when he was able to reach the nursing home staff by telephone soon after the storm, he wasn’t informed that the site had lost power or that there was no working air conditioner at the facility. Within four days, plaintiff says, his mother was dead.

Although this case represents a less common example of a nursing home wrongful death lawsuit, nonetheless it is one that must be taken seriously by health care providers and officials in Florida, where powerful hurricanes are an annual reality. Continue reading →

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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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