Articles Tagged with Florida nursing home abuse

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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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A wealthy nursing home operator with mansions in Miami and Los Angeles is the subject of a U.S. Justice Department investigation and prosecution that alleges he orchestrated a Medicare and Medicaid bribery and kickback scheme totaling losses of more than $1 billion. Authorities in July stated it was the largest single criminal health care fraud case ever filed against an individual by the DOJ. 

Now, the subject of that investigation, Philip Esformes, is fighting to be released on bond, as federal authorities are placing enormous pressure on the courts to keep him locked up in South Florida, where he was arrested at one of his Miami Beach waterfront estates this summer. Although the court has been bombarded with letters of support for Esformes, some of which have included receipts related to his many philanthropic efforts, he remains at the Miami Federal Detention Center.

Authorities say Esformes and his father siphoned millions of taxpayer dollars every single year from federal programs intended to aid the sick and disabled over the course of 14 years. The pair had nursing homes across the country, including about 20 in Florida. According to the latest federal indictment, he and his co-conspirators took money from these federal programs in the name of some 14,000 patients at various facilities. In many cases, federal authorities allege, patients were given treatment that wasn’t necessary and in some cases was actually harmful. Continue reading →

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An elaborate network of Florida nursing facilities reportedly were successful in scamming Medicare and Medicaid programs out of $1 billion over the last 14 years. 

According to The New York Times, the case involves bribes to doctors in Miami, hush money paid to witnesses and gigantic sums paid to shell companies. The Medicare black market has reportedly ballooned in the last 10 years, creating an atmosphere in which nursing home residents were put at great risk by the fact that they were often shoved in and out of the system when it often wasn’t necessary and getting services they often did not need.

The Times reported that doctors, pharmacists and medical personnel got kickbacks and billed Medicaid and Medicare for expensive drugs, procedures and health equipment that patients either didn’t receive or didn’t need.  Continue reading →

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A nursing home abuse lawsuit has been remanded for a new trial – but solely on the personal injury claim, not the wrongful death claim – by the West Virginia Supreme Court. 

The court ruled the lower court erred in failing to apply certain tolling provisions and discovery rules that would have allowed her to present evidence central to her case.

In Williams v. CMO Mgmt., the patient in question was an Alzheimer’s sufferer who resided at defendant facility for a decade, from June 2001 to June 2011. Following his death in early July 2011, plaintiff, as representative of decedent’s estate, filed a lawsuit alleging personal injury and wrongful death as a result of neglect and abuse patient suffered while a patient at facility. Plaintiff also sought damages in connection with systemic issues at the nursing home related to understaffing, poor allocation of resources and budgeting and problems with certain policies and procedures. She wanted to recover for injuries her father had sustained from 2009 until his death.

At all times relevant, decedent was mentally incompetent.  Continue reading →

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Florida nursing homes say state lawmakers need to break them off a larger piece of the taxpayer pie, saying legislators should restore the automatic 1 percent increase in Medicaid payments they had received up until 2011. That was the year state lawmakers halted the increase, citing budget concerns. 

But now, nursing homes say that annual increase should be restored. It would mean about $13 million more from the state every year – divided up among Florida’s 683 nursing homes – plus an additional $20.2 million from the federal government. Although most of the facilities concede they haven’t suffered substantially as a result of the cuts, they certainly could use the money to combat under-staffing and other issues that pose potential risks to nursing home residents.

Lawmakers are reticent to commit to any such change. Elder safety advocates who raise awareness about nursing home abuse and neglect say any such increase should be merit-based, denied to nursing homes that consistently fall short of providing quality care for patients.  Continue reading →

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It’s something that is difficult to talk about and sometimes not always easy to identify. 

Sexual abuse in nursing homes can take several forms. It can be the aide who takes inappropriate pictures of a patient while bathing. It could also be another patient.

In cases where both victim and aggressor suffer from conditions like dementia, there could be a tendency by staff to brush off the known sexual encounters as two people seeking affection. But we have to be very careful not to make assumptions in these cases because one of the first questions should be: Can a person with limited mental function give consent? Often, the answer is no.

A troubling case out of Washington state shows what can happen when nursing home staff are too quick to dismiss these interactions as consensual. According to news reports, numerous instances of sexual contact between a male dementia patient and several female patients was deemed consensual by the director of nursing, who chose not to report the interactions to either the state or the families.  Continue reading →

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State inspectors of nursing homes have an important job: Ensuring that facilities are doing all they should be to protect and provide adequate care for our elderly, vulnerable loved ones.

Some might argue inspections don’t occur frequently enough and may not be as thorough as they should be.

But we would not expect regulators, bound to uphold the laws and guidelines set forth by the people, to be influenced in their work by nursing home industry lobbyists. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what one news team in Pennsylvania discovered when it requested a series of emails.

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