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Possible Sun Exposure Death Investigated at Florida Nursing Home

Authorities are investigating the death of an elderly Florida nursing home resident who may have died of possible sun exposure after he was reportedly left outdoors for an extended period of time. 

According to Health News Florida, first responders in Pinellas Park were called to a nursing home to treat a 65-year-old man who had sustained second-degree burns on his body. His abdomen was reportedly covered with blisters. Paramedics who arrived noted the man was severely dehydrated. Soon after, he went into cardiac arrest and died.

Detectives are trying to ascertain why the man was outside, how long he was outside for, whether he was being supervised and whether he may have been a victim of nursing home abuse and negligence. 

The man reportedly had no next-of-kin to notify. However, a guardian who had been appointed to handle his affairs was notified of his death.

Notably, this isn’t the first time this particular facility – Gracewood Nursing Home – has been the target of an investigation into alleged wrongdoing. Florida’s Department of Children and Families gave the 120-bed facility a single star out of five for performance and patient safety. It’s at the bottom 20 percent compared to others in the region.

The facility was flagged for more than two dozen deficiencies over the course of a year by’s Nursing Home Compare website. This facility had 27 health and safety violations, whereas the average nursing home in Florida has about 6.5 violations. Although the facility is rated “above average” in staffing, its health inspection had a rating of “much below average.”

In one of the most recent survey inspections of the site, problems at the center included:

  • Failure to ensure the nursing facility met professional quality standards (i.e., patients who were not receiving their medications in a timely manner, patients who suffering pressure wounds, patients who were receiving anti-psychotic medications for dementia, etc.);
  • Failure to provide care by qualified persons according to each patient’s written plan of care;
  • Failure to provide necessary care and services (i.e., patient with days-old wound dressings);
  • Failure to safely provide drugs and other similar products during daily routines and also in emergencies.

The facility was fined $2,000 for failure to provide adequate dental care earlier this year. It was the fifth fine the nursing home had accrued in the last decade for various violations.

Whether these issues had any direct correlation with the recent death is unknown. However, it does seem to indicate a pattern of poor care.

It’s been well-documented in a number of medical studies that Vitamin D – which can be acquired via exposure of skin to sunlight or with supplements – can be beneficial for the health of geriatric nursing home patients. In particular, it can help to strengthen bones, which can serve to reduce falls – which is a serious problem in nursing homes across the country.

On the other hand, exposure to sunlight can be dangerous if it is excessive  – and that is a very real possibility here in Florida, particularly during the warmer months. Patients may not only risk sunburn, but also heatstroke. Their frail bodies would tend to be more sensitive to such issues.

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:

Police Identify Man Who Died After Sun Exposure at Nursing Home, May 2, 2016, By Dalina Miller, Health News Florida

More Blog Entries:

Florida Nursing Homes Want More Medicaid Dollars, April 23, 2016, Orlando Nursing Home Negligence Attorney Blog

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