In Florida, the wrongful death statute outlined in Chapter 768 of Florida Statutes allows civil lawsuits to be filed in court when another person’s negligent act or omission causes the death of another person. This can include care – or lack of care – provided in a nursing home environment. As nursing home neglect and wrongful death attorneys in Fort Lauderdale know, a fair number of these cases center not so much on what nursing home staff did as what they failed to do. This can be the case when individuals suffer the ill effects of poor sanitation and basic care guidelines on how to halt the spread of disease and infection. This includes those condition spread by pests or caused by them directly.
That includes conditions like scabies. a highly-contagious skin condition (spread most often by skin-to-skin contact, but also with shared towels, bedding and clothing) and caused by a parasitic mite called Sarcoptes scabiei, or the human itch mite. The mite burrows into the top layer of one’s skin, where it then lives and feeds. Although it can technically affect anyone, it is, as noted by the epidemiology program at the Florida Department of Health, it is often reported in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. While scabies isn’t typically listed in common examples of wrongful death cases in nursing homes, that is not to say complications from the skin condition can’t be deadly.
Earlier this year, The Washington Post and many other news outlets detailed the horrific death of a 93-year-old woman in a Georgia nursing home. Once a gorgeous, red-headed model in New York City, former U.S. Navy employee and assistant for CBS News’s Mike Wallace, the decedent fell ill with dementia, which worsened as she aged, necessitating her move from an assisted living center to a for-profit nursing home. There, she lived for five years until she died. Her daughter, who has filed a lawsuit within the wrongful death statute of limitations (which in Georgia, like Florida, is two years from the date of one’s death, per F.S. 95.11), alleging the scabies her mother endured went untreated, ending in a painful death that amounted to her “literally being eaten alive from inside out.”
Does Wrongful Death Statute Allow for Insect Infestation Illnesses in Florida Nursing Homes?
The wrongful death statute in Florida can allow for illnesses resulting from viruses, bacteria and insects – if it can be shown the condition foreseeable or preventable or should have been caught much sooner before the patient deteriorated from a direct illness or related condition.
With scabies, those who are elderly are at special risk of developing “crusted scabies,” which is a severe form of the condition that can develop in those with weak immune systems or pre-existing medical problems. Because these individuals don’t have much internal resistance, the condition multiplies much more quickly, leading to thick crusts on the skin, which can crumble when touched. If left untreated, it can progress to an extent that part of one’s skin can flake and peel. When millions of mites accumulate on one’s skin, the severity of the itch can lead to serious infection. So too can non-stop scratching, which the American Academy of Dermatology reported can lead to sepsis, or blood infection, which can be deadly.
If you are uncertain whether the loss of your loved one in a nursing home is covered by Florida’s wrongful death statute, contact our experienced West Palm Beach wrongful death attorneys to learn more.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.
Scabies: How The Skin Condition Can Become Deadly, April 30, 2018, By Medical Daily Staff
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Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuit Alleges Failed Nursing Home Care Post-Hurricane, Oct. 4, 2018, West Palm Beach Wrongful Death Attorney Blog