Inadequate staffing for seriously ill patients is alleged to have led to the deaths of at least three patients who received care at several nursing home facilities – one in Winter Haven and two in Lakeland – owned by the same firm, according to lawsuits filed recently.
The Lakeland Ledger reports the cases involve three patients who received care between August 2013 and March 2014. Their deaths, reported days or weeks after discharge, were reportedly connected to their stay at the facilities.
Each complaint alleges the parent company committed neglect by pushing its subsidiary nursing homes to admit more patients who were seriously ill. These individuals would require more care and thus the companies would be more handsomely reimbursed by the federal government. However, the facilities did not increase staffing levels in order to provide the heightened level of care these patients needed, and this led to patients receiving poor care, ultimately resulting in illness and death.
Fort Lauderdale nursing home neglect lawyers are familiar with this type of operating procedures among facilities in South Florida. In many cases, decisions concerning which residents should be admitted are based not on whether the facility is equipped to adequately meet the needs of the patient, but rather on the basis of who much the facility will be paid in order to accept that patient.
Litigation in these cases accuses the facilities of staffing the facilities on a per-day, per-resident basis, rather than a careful analysis of each residents’ needs.
Specifically, plaintiff attorneys allege the former residents – all now deceased – were not properly monitored throughout their stay for dehydration, skin conditions and symptoms of certain infections.
One of the women allegedly developed a condition called “c-diff,” which is the body’s response to dehydration and infection.
Another patient during his stay reportedly became dehydrated and malnourished. As a result, his kidneys failed and his blood pressure plummeted. He died a short time later.
The third patient developed a horrific bedsore, and his blood pressure dropped precariously low. He also developed gangrene in one of his feet, which was not properly monitored or treated, ultimately resulting in an amputation of the foot and leg below the knee.
The facilities in which these incidents occurred rank poorly in federal government databases. Two of them are given “one-star” ratings out of five, and the third has a “two-star” rating out of five. Those ratings were valid as of fall last year.
These for-profit facilities have been fined several times in the last handful of years, according to the Ledger’s report. One facility received a total of nearly $26,000 in fines from 2010 through 2013. Another was issued four fines totaling $14,000 from 2011 to 2013. The third facility received a $5,000 fine in 2013.
Staff shortages at Florida nursing homes are a serious and widespread problem. When aides and nurses are forced to operate within high staff-to-patient ratios, patients are more likely to become injured, suffer an infection or even die. Patients at these facilities more frequently require hospitalization and repeat hospitalizations.
But of course, higher staff levels means facilities have to pay more money, and that’s not something many are keen to do.
Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.
Nursing Centers Face Lawsuit in 3 Deaths, Jan. 3, 2014, By Robin Williams Adams, The Ledger
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