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New allegations of nursing home negligence, neglect and wrongful death in South Florida in the wake of Hurricane Irma last year are being alleged against a second facility. If you follow our South Florida nursing home injury lawyer blog or local news, you’re likely familiar with the incident in Broward County that claimed the lives of 12 people, suffering from heat-related illness after the storm knocked out power and caregivers failed to call for assistance. Now, another wrongful death lawsuit – this one in Palm Beach County – alleges virtually the exact same scenario at 114-bed facility just a few cities over. Florida wrongful death attorney

The owner and former executive director are also named as defendants in wrongful death  claim, which stems from the death of plaintiff’s 90-year-old mother. Plaintiff alleges that when he was able to reach the nursing home staff by telephone soon after the storm, he wasn’t informed that the site had lost power or that there was no working air conditioner at the facility. Within four days, plaintiff says, his mother was dead.

Although this case represents a less common example of a nursing home wrongful death lawsuit, nonetheless it is one that must be taken seriously by health care providers and officials in Florida, where powerful hurricanes are an annual reality. Continue reading →

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Elder sexual abuse – particularly that occurring in nursing homes – is often misunderstood, if it is acknowledged at all. Victims often suffer from medical conditions, such as Alzheimer’s dementia or physical impairment, that make them vulnerable and less able to speak out and report the truth.elderly sexual abuse lawyer

Furthermore, while we are living in a time when women and sexual assault victims are increasingly emboldened to report their attacks or harassment, most of those living in nursing homes are not of the #metoo generation.

Our Orlando nursing home sexual abuse attorneys want to make certain victims and their families understand their rights as well as the nursing home’s responsibilities. Just because nursing home staff doesn’t know about sexual abuse of a patient doesn’t mean they didn’t have a responsibility to know about it. It is their duty to hire people whose backgrounds don’t raise significant concerns of sexual assault at nursing homes. It is their duty to properly supervise interactions patients have with staffers, other patients and visitors. They have a legal duty to protect their patients.  Continue reading →

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Our U.S. military veterans deserve our utmost gratitude and respect for the sacrifices they have made to keep our country safer. Much of their care falls under the umbrella of the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs, often referred to simply as, “the VA.” One would assume the care provided by the VA would be top-of-the-line. However, a recent report by USA Today reveals the nursing home care provided to veterans appears to be less-than-ideal.nursing home abuse

In fact, some of the lowest-rated nursing homes in the country are apparently those that provide care to veterans. That includes one in Tampa, Florida. This and 10 others scattered nationally from Massachusetts to Arizona have earned the lowest possible one-star rating (on a scale of 1-to-5) from the VA on the basis of the overall quality they provide as well as the findings during surprise inspections.

Among the problems cited by USA Today:

  • Nurse’s aides trying by themselves to lift 90+-year-old patients and transfer them from wheelchairs to beds.
  • Patients struggling to feed themselves unsuccessfully with spoons, despite staffers sitting nearby.
  • Veterans lying naked in beds covered by stained sheets.

Continue reading →

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Quality of nursing home care – more than one’s actual diagnosis – is the predictor in whether a patient avoids hospitalizations and rehospitalizations. This is important to know because hospitalization means a patient is already the point of suffering emergency or serious health problems. It disrupts one’s care and with long-term nursing home patients, we often see a significant decline in health and functioning following discharge from a hospital. This is especially true for frail, older adults. nursing home negligence

Avoiding deterioration to that point is preferred, which means we need to know what’s landing nursing home residents in the hospital in the first place.

As long-time nursing home negligence attorneys in Boca Raton, we can tell you that of course not every nursing home patient who is hospitalized is there because of negligence, abuse or medical malpractice by the nursing home, staffers or medical contractors. Many nursing home patients are already quite sick to start. However, if you suspect your loved one may have received care that fell below the accepted standard and that this may have played a role in the decline of your loved one’s health, talking to a nursing home injury attorney can help either put your mind at ease or start the process of seeking accountability for wrongdoing. Continue reading →

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A Congressional committee is slated to hold a hearing to examine emerging patterns of nursing home abuse, neglect and general substandard care revealed recently by government regulators and media outlets.nursing home abuse lawyer

According to McKnights Long-Term Care News, lawmakers want to determine whether the Centers or Medicare & Medicaid Services has fallen short in its responsibility to manage safety at nursing homes throughout the country.

The subcommittee chairman on Oversight and Investigations for the U.S. House of Representatives pointed out there have been numerous reports in recent months detailing “horrific” cases of nursing home abuse, neglect and other patient harm occurring in nursing homes in recent years. Specifically, he highlighted the Florida nursing home negligence case in Hollywood Hills wherein more than a dozen residents died following a hurricane last year after the nursing home failed to obtain swift assistance when the air conditioning system broke down and residents suffered numerous heat-related illnesses. There was an operational hospital directly across the street.

The sub-committee chair said these and other incidents have raised serious questions about whether CMS is adequately fulfilling its responsibility to make certain care standards are met, particularly for the most vulnerable elderly residents – particularly those with disabling conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. Continue reading →

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Federal data shows what our nursing home neglect attorneys in Orlando have long known: The majority of nursing homes have fewer care-taking staff and nurses than what they had reported to government regulators. It’s well-established that the fewer individuals on the care-taking staff, the higher the risk the elderly and vulnerable residents will suffer abuse or neglect.nursing home abuse

We often have family members who suspect that staffing levels at their loved one’s nursing home were inadequate, but are often not provided with straight answers by the facility. In some cases, they may be flat-out deceived.

Where evidence of inadequate staffing levels exists, it can go a long way in proving negligence. It’s not difficult to understand that when a patient’s needs are significant (as most nursing home residents are), it’s going to take time to adequately meet those needs. When there aren’t enough staffers, day-to-day care can fall by the wayside. This can result in substantial injuries and illnesses, such as pressure ulcers, falls and major dental problems. Continue reading →

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Allegations of rampant nursing home neglect at four facilities followed reports of remarkable soaring profits in the two years after a new owner took over. This doesn’t surprise our Orlando nursing home abuse attorneys in the least, given that the growing number of for-profit nursing homes tend to far more understaffed and rake in higher profit margins than those operating on a not-for-profit basis. It all comes down to the clear incentive corporate owners have to reduce costs and fatten their own pockets. However, they do so at the expense of properly caring for the most vulnerable elderly residents. nursing home abuse

According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, one of the nursing homes in question went from roughly breaking even in the two years before the new owner took over to suddenly being the No. 2 most profitable nursing home in the region. Soon after, officials say, the quality of care provided to nursing home residents plummeted. In September, state investigators who inspected the facility reported it was so awful at one, the neglect so pervasive, officials decided to shut it down and revoke its license. Such a measure is rarely taken against nursing homes, even those found to be responsible for neglect and abuse.

One of the local nursing home abuse attorneys in that region was quoted by the newspaper as saying the executive officer of the nursing home chain (who operates a management group based out of New York) was making heaps of profits, which was only possible through nursing home understaffing. The attorney said (as our Orlando nursing home abuse lawyers have also seen here) that when staffing in a nursing home facility are cut, it directly and negatively impacts both the quality of care and quality of life for nursing home residents.  Continue reading →

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In nursing home negligence cases, an increasing number of these for-profit facilities have complicated corporate structures. The primary company that benefits financially is not necessarily the one that actually manages the day-to-day operations. The reason for this is very intentional, and it has to do with how whether and to what degree those companies can be held responsible when nursing home abuse or neglect takes place. nursing home abuse

When a nursing home staffer commits abuse or neglect, the employer can be held responsible in one of two ways: Direct negligence or vicarious liability. In a situation of direct negligence, it may be established the employer nursing home failed to properly vet the employee or didn’t have the right systems in place to supervise its workers or the patients. Vicarious liability, meanwhile, stems from the common law principle of repondeat superior, which is Latin for, “let the master answer.” While plaintiff must prove negligence by the employer in the first case, one need not prove negligence by the employer for a finding of vicarious liability. Instead, they need only show the employee was negligent or committed an intentional tort while acting in the course and scope of employment. This difference may also be important when it comes to the question of damages (which is how much money is paid).

Recently, the Tennessee Court of Appeals partially reversed a nearly $30 million damage award to a plaintiff in a nursing home wrongful death case alleging negligence and medical malpractice (technically in that state referred to as “health care liability”). The court vacated the damage award and remanded for a new hearing as to the amount of punitive damages to be awarded. (Punitive damages in Florida, F.S. 768.72, as in Tennessee, are awarded not to compensate for actual losses by plaintiff, but to penalize the defendant for gross negligence or intentional misconduct.) Continue reading →

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Adult children making the difficult choice to place their elderly parents in a Florida nursing home often turn to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) when it comes to deciding on a facility. The federal agency has established a Five-Star Quality Rating System to assist consumers, their families and caregivers in order to compare nursing homes and help them more easily identify potential problems. Those with the highest ratings are considered to be top quality, while those at the lower end may have been cited for repeated deficiencies and issues that place residents in direct harm.nursing home abuse attorney Orlando

However, as a recent story out of Illinois shows, even those scores don’t necessarily tell the whole story. The Des Moines Register reported that despite a proposed fine $30,000 by the state for nursing home conditions allegedly leading to the death of an 87-year-old resident, CMS still gave the facility a five-star rating in terms of quality of resident care. It’s overall rating was two stars, which is considered below average.

The woman reportedly died after suffering from dehydration and severe pain. State authorities opined she may not have had water for several days. Yet the fine hasn’t actually been imposed, which would allow CMS to take over the case. It’s not the first time the nursing home has come under fire. Last year, the state fined the facility for physical and verbal abuse of the residents. The fact that it still has a five-star rating for care has many wondering the measures by which CMS decides one’s ranking and whether they are truly reliable, particularly considering they are based in part on data self-reported by the nursing homes and not verified by state officials.  Continue reading →

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Before the arrest of a small assisted living facility owner in West Palm Beach on charges of elder abuse and neglect, daughters of two of the residents had tried to alert authorities. The Palm Beach Post reports the women filed at least three complaints with the Florida Department of Children and Families regarding the level of care at the facility, alleging unexplained injury to their mother, poor food quality (hot dogs and expired frozen fish) and furniture that smelled like urine. In one instance, when staffers reportedly refused to change her mother’s diaper, one of the women attempted to do it on her own – only to be forced by the owner to leave. Another time, she said she witnessed another resident suffering from dementia being “punished” by being forced to sit in the hot sun facing a backyard fence.nursing home abuse lawyer

They also filed a complaint with the Agency for Health Care Administration, specifically in charge of inspecting both assisted living facilities and nursing homes. When they didn’t get responses, they petitioned the court to have their parents returned to their home (they had been deemed incapacitated and had an unrelated court-appointed guardian). The court dismissed their complaint as unfounded.

Then, the facility owner was arrested on charges of unlawfully restraining elderly female residents to their beds and leaving the residents alone overnight. The investigation was only sparked after a service provider of the facility snapped some photos of one resident restrained to her bed. That individual also alleged the owner was sexually molesting residents at night, though the 52-year-old does not face any such charges. Residents have since been removed from the facility (owned by defendant and his wife), and a moratorium has been placed on accepting new residents. Continue reading →

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