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Palm Beach Assisted Living Home Abuse Alleged, Patients Left Restrained Overnight

The owner of an assisted living facility in West Palm Beach is accused of elder abuse after police allege residents were left restrained and unattended overnight. Defendant, 52, was arrested on felony elder abuse charges. 

Such actions, if proven, unquestionably places residents at grave risk of suffering serious injury and illness. Criminal definitions of and penalties for lacking supervision and abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult is outlined in F.S. 825.102. Abuse involves physical or psychological injury on an elder/ disabled adult, an intentional act that may reasonably be expected to result in such injury or active encouragement of such an act. Certainly, the act of which defendant is accused would rise to that level. Elder neglect differs slightly, defined as an omission or failure to provide an elder adult with basic necessities (i.e., food, nutrition, clothing, shelter, supervision, medicine and medical services) or failure to reasonably protect one from abuse, neglect or exploitation from another.

In this case, according to The Palm Beach Post, the facility has just six beds and was already under heightened scrutiny from state officials following an inspection in late February indicating numerous deficiencies. Among those: Failure to complete health assessments of those residing at the center to ascertain whether they needed assistance with medication or a dietary change. The center was also cited for not abiding accepted hygiene standards in doling out medications, as a staffer was seen distributing it without first sanitizing his or her hands. The center’s previous license expired shortly before that inspection, and its current license is considered under review. 

It’s not clear what triggered the call to authorities, but ambulances arrived at the center early one morning and police allege discovery of all residents restrained with no staffers present. The nature of those restraints was not described by local news reports, but five patients were transported via ambulance to a local hospital.

West Palm Beach nursing home abuse attorneys know restraints in general -physical and chemical – are not advisable in a nursing home setting except as an absolute last resort. Even then, the goal should always be the least invasive method for the shortest period possible (and always well-supervised). the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services report restraint use in nursing homes dropped considerably in recent years, from 21.1 percent in 1991 to 5 percent in 2007. CMS attributes this directly to the federal 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act. The act does specifically indicate physical or chemical restraint use is against the law unless it’s necessary to treat medical symptoms. It can’t ever be used for staff convenience.

Despite improvements, we cannot rest on laurels and pretend it’s no longer a serious issue.

CMS notes numerous health and safety hazards are known to arise from restraints in nursing homes, and the danger often far outweighs the benefit. Such restraints include but aren’t limited to the use of side rails, and there is always a risk the resident will fall, have blood flow restricted or become entangled in them. Some residents have been known to die as a result, and the evidence doesn’t support the theory that they help prevent or reduce falls.

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.

Additional Resources:

UPDATE: Owner accused of elderly abuse at assisted living home near West Palm, April 21, 2018, By Chelsea Todaro, Palm Beach Post

More Blog Entries:

Report: Nursing Homes Overmedicate People With Dementia, June 19, 2018, Palm Beach Assisted Living Facility Abuse Blog

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