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Florida Nursing Home Abuse Allegations Improperly Handled, State Says

Jupiter nursing home abuse attorneys know that it’s not enough for a Florida elder care facility to acknowledge and take action in the wake of allegations of abuse, neglect or negligence – though that is the least it should do.

A facility on the Florida panhandle is currently facing fines and state-mandated probation not only for failing to implement procedures to prevent future abuse but also for failing to report previous abuse allegations to state authorities.

In a final order issued by the Agency for Health Care Administration, the government chastised the Crestview-area home for failing to properly report allegations of patient abuse.

Back in the fall of 2012, the state conducted a routine survey of the facility. Inspectors interviewed both staffers and residents and reviewed the home’s records to ensure compliance with basic standards of care. However, it was determined in the course of that survey that three of the 60 clients may have suffered abuse. A number of staffers knew that there was intentional rudeness and refusal of treatment, care and services on the part of other workers toward certain patients. And yet, these staffers had never done anything to address these actions. What’s more, they didn’t report these violations to state agencies.

The firsthand accounts from residents are heartbreaking. One was from an elderly man with Parkinson’s disease, which affects a person’s muscle movements. He needed assistance in using the restroom. One of the female staffers told him to do it himself. Another finally wheeled him into the restroom, then roughly shoved his wheelchair up against the wall. When he was finished, she ordered him to move his feet. When he couldn’t, she ran over his feet.

Cases like this are very telling because many nursing home residents are unable to so clearly recall the mistreatment they suffer. In fact, many staffers target those whom they know won’t be able to tell. That staffers would do this to someone who is cognizant enough to recall what happened in detail is deeply troubling when considering how those same staffers might then treat someone with dementia or some other mental disability.

In another case at this same facility, one female staffer is accused of physically hitting a number of residents. Some had described her as “rough” or “having an attitude,” but there had been reports of her physically striking patients. A couple of administrators conceded knowledge that a few of the patients “had issues” with this woman, but nothing had ever been done to address those problems. The director of nursing denied awareness of any contention.

Florida Statute 400.022(1) holds that each nursing home resident in the state has the right to be treated courteously, fairly and with the fullest measure of dignity. Demanding someone with physical disabilities get up and use the bathroom on their own is none of these things. Certainly, neither is outright physical abuse.

This facility faces the possibility of a fine for failure to comply with state law. However, the real travesty is the amount of that fine: $13,500. What that basically means is that it’s cheaper for nursing home facilities to simply pay these kinds of fines for violations as a cost of doing business, rather than address and correct problems at the front end by doing all they can to ensure patient safety and well-being.

Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:
Nursing home faces sanctions for clients’ treatment (DOCUMENT), May 14, 2013, By Tom McLaughlin, NWF Daily News

More Blog Entries:
Florida Nursing Home Negligence Results in State Fine, May 27, 2013, Jupiter Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog

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