Articles Posted in nursing home negligence

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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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It’s estimated that 60 percent of all people with dementia will wander – and a significant number of nursing home patients suffer some form of dementia. It’s a serious problem because oftentimes, these individuals may not remember their name or address or become disoriented – even in a familiar place. Sometimes, it’s one of the issues that led loved ones to seek long-term skilled nursing care. These facilities know this is a problem they are likely to face, and they owe a duty of care to put in place strong measures to ensure patients are protected. Usually that means there are locks and alarms on all potential exits. It means patients themselves may be equipped with some type of electronic monitoring. It means there are enough staffers to keep a watchful eye on patients.nursing home wrongful death

Not long ago in Ohio, a 56-year-old man with dementia and a history of attempted escapes slipped out of a nursing home where he’d lived for three years after a heart-attach that induced cognitive decline. He was stopped by police about two hours later. The nursing home had not reported him missing by that time. The officers took him to the city limit the next community over after he told them he was trying to get there to his home. Two days later, he was found dead, likely due to exposure (temperatures had dipped below freezing, and he was found curled up on the ground next to a dumpster in a gas station parking lot).

A spokesperson for the facility would later say decedent used an elevator security code to walk out right behind a patient visitor. A staff member of the nursing home ushered them both out. The family’s attorney told The Canton Repository the man was a known risk, which was why he was in this secured unit. His elopement should never have happened to begin with, but even if they had at least reported it before police encountered him, law enforcement would have been able to secure and return him. Continue reading →

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A nursing home in California is facing an injury lawsuit after one of its patient, a man who is 55 and suffers mental impairment, suffered severe burns after he was allegedly given a cigarette and a lighter – and discovered a short time later engulfed in flames. Prior to the incident, the man was partially paralyzed and was only mobile with the use of a wheelchair. nursing home neglect lawyer

The nursing home injury lawsuit filed on his behalf, according to The San Luis Obispo Tribune, alleges abuse, neglect, negligence and violations of the patient’s rights resulting in injury. His father asserts he should have never been given his own lighter nor left alone unsupervised in a designated smoking area. The nursing home has yet to file its response in court, though a statement released to media shortly after the incident indicated the facility worked hard to balance the safety of residents with their desire to be independent and continue lifelong habits.

But the issue, plaintiff says, is not that the facility allowed his son to smoke. The issue was that the staff had a duty of care to provide plaintiff with appropriate supervision and protection. Specifically in this instance, plaintiff says, his son should have been provided with a fire-retardant gown. He should not have been left with a lighter in his possession. There should have been staffers there to supervise him. Plaintiff’s injury lawyer says that while a fair amount of nursing home negligence cases involve some allegation of medical malpractice, this issue was one of “basic common sense” and ordinary negligence. (It’s an important distinction in terms of notice and expert witness requirements).  Continue reading →

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A new analysis of data culled from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics paints a bleak picture for the workers we entrust with the care of some of our most vulnerable citizens, and in turn raises questions about how their care might be impacted. nursing home injury

The federal agency’s newest release of non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private employers indicated approximately 2.9 million workers were injured annually in 2016, which represents a rate of 2.9 cases for every 100 full-time employers. State-operated nursing and residential care facilities had a rate of workplace injuries and illnesses that, on average, was about 13.7 cases per 100 full-time workers. That’s an increase from 12 per 100 just a year earlier. Privately-owned skilled nursing facilities, meanwhile, as well as those operated by local governments reported injury rates that were 6.5 and 6.1, respectively. In total, skilled nursing facilities in all three categories reported nearly 260,000 work-related injuries and illnesses that year, with nearly 112,000 of those workers requiring days away from work, job transfers or job restrictions on the kind of work they could do. This reflects research released in 2012 by RTI International that 60 percent of nursing assistants in nursing homes incur some type of occupational injuries, ranging from back injuries to black eyes to bites and physical violence.

That raises substantial questions about not only what needs to be done to ensure these workers are healthy, but about the quality of care patients are receiving. For instance, many nursing homes are already understaffed as it is, and the problem is worsening as the population ages. When a worker is forced to take leave or work on restricted duty because of an injury, it means there is even less staff to care for patients’ day-to-day needs.  Continue reading →

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