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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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Most people are familiar with the tragic story of how 12 residents died in a Hollywood nursing home after it lost power due to Hurricane Irma slamming into the region. In that case, the temperatures go to deadly levels and much of the equipment was not functioning. While this particular case has been covered extensively in the media, there is now a focus on preventing a similar tragic incident in the future as we head into the full swing of hurricane season in South Florida once again.

nursing home injury lawyerWhenever a major weather event causes massive power outages, and this can include a major hurricane, a tropical storm, or even severe thunderstorms, local power company workers should be out in force working to restore power. Since some facilities like hospitals, police stations, fire stations, and others are deemed more critical than others in terms of having power quickly restored, there is a priority list maintained by Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) so they can focus on restoring the most essential systems first and then going back and getting everyone else’s power back on. Continue reading →

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Florida’s First District Court of Appeal upheld action from Gov. Rick Scott to shutter a Broward County nursing home that garnered national attention last year following a dozen deaths in the wake of Hurricane Irma.nursing home abuse

The Agency for Health Care Administration issued an immediate moratorium on admissions that blocked the already-evacuated facility from accepting any new residents. The government regulator issued an immediate final suspension order, suspending the facility’s center in the Medicaid program, as well as a suspension order, suspending the facility’s license to operate.

Fighting back with a series of petitions challenging those orders, the facility asserted that each failed to provide sufficient specific factual allegations justifying emergency action. They also alleged the AHCA failed to provide the appropriate administrative hearing. The appellate court ruled the challenge to the immediate moratorium on admissions to the facility was moot in light of the subsequent emergency suspension order which halted the facility’s license to operate, and that the orders to suspend the facility’s access to Medicaid as well as license to operate were sufficiently supported by fact. Further, the court rejected the facility’s argument that it was not given the proper opportunity for a hearing because the record didn’t demonstrate that the facility requested a hearing.  Continue reading →

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A jury recently awarded $7.5 million to the family of an elderly woman who was sexually assaulted while a resident at a nursing home in Pennsylvania. nursing home abuse

According to records from the Pennsylvania Superior Court, plaintiffs (decedent’s daughters and co-administrators of her estate) sued the nursing home where she resided prior to her death, alleging one of the other residents at the center sexually assaulted her during her residency. They accused the nursing home and her alleged abuser for negligence, breach of fiduciary duty and premises liability.

As it turned out, the fellow patient was a registered sex offender before he was accepted into the facility and the abuse began. He was later arrested and pleaded guilty to sexual assault and was sentenced to 8-to-20-years incarceration. Decedent passed away 10 months after the alleged assault from causes unrelated. Plaintiffs alleged defendant facility was aware of the threat posed by the resident and failed to properly supervise him or protect the patient. 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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One of the largest nursing home chains in Florida – Consulate Health Care – has a long track record of poor patient care, yet has continued to keep its doors open. The Naples Daily News reported this was the same company a jury ordered to pay $348 million in damages to the family of Jacksonville-area man who was allegedly denied critical care services, despite the fact that the government had reimbursed for it. That verdict was later overturned by a federal judge on appeal, who noted nothing the center was accused of had spurred action by regulators with the state or federal government. Prior inspections of the company’s nursing homes haven’t resulted in fines. However, reporters were quick to note that doesn’t automatically translate to the company being free of problems. nursing home abuse

Investigators have cited the firm on numerous occasions for abuse, mistreatment and neglect of patients – serious enough that some of them could have technically been shut down, though they never were. In most cases, the company was never even fined.

The regulatory body with oversight, the Agency for Health Care Administration, threatened in January to close more than 50 of the company’s 77 nursing homes throughout Florida. However, a settlement two months ago allowed those centers to keep their doors open, and only eight of those remain under tight state oversight. Only one remains in pending litigation with the regulator.  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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Injuries resulting from falls are the reason for almost 40 percent of all preventable hospital visits by nursing home residents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Too many of these falls go underreported. Even when they are reported, there is a false assumption that it’s simply a part of normal aging. It’s not. The risk of falls in nursing homes can and should be substantially minimized with proper policy and procedure, adequate staffing, the right equipment and appropriate supervision. fall injury attorney

But the numbers tell us far too many nursing homes are failing when it comes to fall prevention.

Just recently, a Massachusetts nurse whom state health officials cited for failure to properly attend a nursing home patient who suffered a fatal fall agreed to surrender his license for three years (after which time he could re-apply for it). However, The Worcester Telegram reports the nurse failed to sign off on the resolution prior to the deadline, so now it’s unclear if he’s still holding his license. Part of the agreement was that he would concede that while working as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) at a nursing home, he did not properly assess a patient who had fallen and he also failed to document or report the fall. This admission would have been acknowledgment that his conduct was not aligned with standards set forth by the state board of nursing.  Continue reading →

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