Articles Tagged with Florida nursing home abuse attorney

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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.

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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Financial exploitation of the elderly is a serious and growing problem in Florida, where the aging population is expanding and there are increasingly fewer resources to help protect them. A new bill being considered by both state and house representatives (SB 1562/ CS/HB 1059) has been winding its way through various committees, so far gaining unanimous support. 

The bill is called Exploitation of a Vulnerable Adult (as it protects primarily but not only the elderly) and would establish a cause of action for injunction for protection of adults vulnerable to exploitation, and establishes penalties for willful violations. It seems to protect vulnerable adults over 18 who are impaired in performing daily activities or in their ability to care for or protect themselves due to mental, emotional, sensory, long-term physical or developmental disabilities or dysfunctions, brain damage or infirmity due to aging.

There are currently a few existing laws that outline protections against financial abuse of the elderly. For instance, current statute gives the Florida Department of Children and Families authority to initiate investigation of abuse, neglect or exploitation reports. Further, F.S. 415.111 allows for civil remedy (a lawsuit) for vulnerable adults who have been abused, neglected or exploited to pursue litigation against any perpetrator to recover both actual and punitive damages. Guardians or a personal representative acting on behalf of the individual can also pursue such a claim. Parties who prevail may be entitled to also be compensated for attorney’s fees, costs of the action and damages. Continue reading →

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Mandatory arbitration agreements have become a common staple in the nursing home admissions process. These documents are shoved in front of patients and/or their loved ones with little explanation of the fact that a signature amounts to the loss of significant civil rights in the event the patient is neglected or abused.

That means patients and their loved ones are denied justice, and the nursing homes can evade accountability.

Now, a legal advocacy group is pushing the federal government for forceful action on this issue. The group Public Justice has filed extensive comments with the Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services (CMS), calling on the agency to cut funding to any nursing home that requires arbitration agreements. The agency is said to be seriously considering such action. Continue reading →

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Admission to nursing homes in Florida is increasingly coming at a great cost, not just to residents’ bank accounts, but also to their rights. 

Many new admissions or their family members are being “asked” to sign mandatory arbitration agreements, typically included in the mounds of other necessary paperwork completed before a care agreement is reached.

Mandatory arbitration agreements are legal contracts in which patients and/or their loved ones agree any dispute or disagreement related to care will be raised before an arbitrator, rather than in civil court before a judge. The process is typically advantageous for nursing homes because rulings are mostly in their favor and even when damages are awarded, the amount is typically far less.

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It’s been four years since a Miami Herald investigation revealed systemic problems leading to abuse, neglect and death of residents at some of the state’s more than 3,000 assisted living facilities, which serve approximately 86,00 elderly patients.

That investigation prompted Florida Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, to draft bill after bill to address lapses in state oversight and enforcement of laws to protect these residents. Each year, the measure failed.

Until now.

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