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Increasing Number of Nursing Home Abuse Allegations

In the wake of a recently-passed bill that allows Florida nursing home investors to evade liability for wrongdoing, the attorney general of Ohio has announced an uptick of complaints relative to abuse and neglect in nursing homes.

Our Fort Lauderdale nursing home abuse lawyers have every reason to believe the same kinds of trends are indicated here in Florida, given that the aging population has resulted in an increased demand for nursing home services. Meanwhile, for-profit organizations are increasingly driven by their bottom line, with less focus on the quality of patient care.

In Ohio, the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit reported 131 new reported cases of nursing home abuse and neglect thus far this year. That is nearly double the 74 that were reported during the same time last year. More than half of the new cases were opened following an announcement that authorities in that state were dedicated to rooting out nursing homes that provide poor care.

The Ohio Attorney General was quoted as saying it was his belief the majority of nursing homes were providing a high level of care to patients, but there is concern that many are not. This kind of substandard care harms patients. He vowed that if harm continued to befall residents, in-room hidden cameras would be the next step to ensuring compliance.

A report issued last summer by ProPublica and Frontline indicated that nationwide, the loosely-regulated, billion-dollar assisted living industry was consistently placing profits over people. These facilities have become major corporations, many operating hundreds of facilities in dozens of states.

The new Florida law makes it tougher for Floridians to sue when these larger corporations are negligent in providing care or when abuse occurs. SB 670, signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott, was intended to make the state attractive to investors who wanted to invest in Florida’s growing nursing home and assisted living industry.

However, what it’s done is strip some of these agencies of accountability. With little worry regarding the consequences of poor treatment, there is less incentive to improve or maintain elder-care services. It’s worth noting that just prior to the vote, the nursing home industry poured nearly $2.5 million into political campaigns.

Another concern is that this will hinder the increase in nursing home abuse and neglect reports. In Ohio, part of the reason for the rise has to do with the fact that the state attorney general has been vocal in his resolve to address the problems. People are more apt to report wrongdoing when they know it will be taken seriously. Given the legislative climate in Florida, not everyone here retains the same level of confidence.

What further exacerbates matters is the fact that those who are infirm have fewer choices in Florida regarding their care. While the 1999 landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Olmstead v. L.C. barred states for unnecessarily segregating the elderly and disabled into nursing homes and other institutions, a new report indicates Florida is ranked 46th behind other states and D.C. in its allotment of Medicaid money for non-institutional care.

Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:
Ohio AG announces rise in complaints about nursing home abuse, neglect, July 1, 2014, By Bryan Cohen, Legal Newsline

More Blog Entries:
Manor Care Inc. v. Douglas – Nursing Home Dehydration Death Weighed, June 25, 2014, Fort Lauderdale Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog

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