Articles Tagged with nursing home abuse

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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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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. nursing home abuse

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.  Continue reading →

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After discovering a 67-year-old dementia patient bound to a chair, duct tape covering her mouth so she wouldn’t scream, a caregiver removed the portion of duct tape over the woman’s mouth – so she could give her sleeping pills. She then removed a small portion of tape that bound the woman’s body, and then discussed with another caregiver – the one who had initially left the patient in that state – that tying a patient to a chair was wrong. Nonetheless, she did not report the incident. nursing home abuse

The first would later explain she’d only done so because the patient was unable to stay quiet or still and she had other patients who required her attention.

That was the account as explained by investigators with the Boynton Beach Police Department, as reported by The Sun Sentinel. Both women, one 44 and another 52, were arrested on charges of false imprisonment and elderly abuse. A third employee is also being investigated as a possible suspect. The victim, police said, was not alert to the time, place or year.  Continue reading →

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Making the decision to place a loved one in the care of a nursing home isn’t easy under any circumstances. At least last year, families in Florida had the benefit of state health regulator reports available easily online. Such reports could reveal nursing home abuse or negligence and help individuals determine whether a facility posed safety issues they wanted to avoid.nursing home abuse lawyer

Then late last year, the state regulators scrubbed their website of this information with no explanation. So for instance, a report of a woman being cared for in a Hialeah Gardens nursing home who committed suicide by jumping 40 feet from her window onto the concrete courtyard below after she hadn’t seen a psychiatrist in weeks, despite medical instructions to the contrary. There was also information indicating that the facility had been responsible for misconduct that played a role in the woman’s death, and in particular had placed that patient and others in a position of “immediate jeopardy.” Prior to the government website being stripped of these reports, one could find the 83 pages of investigative data on this case (with identifying patient information redacted).

The site specifically that had issues is that of the AHCA (Agency for Health Care Administration). Though the information is technically still “public record,” one must know precisely what to ask for and whom to ask – and a wait will be required, along with the potential of being charged for those records. Previously, as noted by the Tampa Bay Times, this information had been available with simply a few keystrokes. Continue reading →

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Florida’s First District Court of Appeal upheld action from Gov. Rick Scott to shutter a Broward County nursing home that garnered national attention last year following a dozen deaths in the wake of Hurricane Irma.nursing home abuse

The Agency for Health Care Administration issued an immediate moratorium on admissions that blocked the already-evacuated facility from accepting any new residents. The government regulator issued an immediate final suspension order, suspending the facility’s center in the Medicaid program, as well as a suspension order, suspending the facility’s license to operate.

Fighting back with a series of petitions challenging those orders, the facility asserted that each failed to provide sufficient specific factual allegations justifying emergency action. They also alleged the AHCA failed to provide the appropriate administrative hearing. The appellate court ruled the challenge to the immediate moratorium on admissions to the facility was moot in light of the subsequent emergency suspension order which halted the facility’s license to operate, and that the orders to suspend the facility’s access to Medicaid as well as license to operate were sufficiently supported by fact. Further, the court rejected the facility’s argument that it was not given the proper opportunity for a hearing because the record didn’t demonstrate that the facility requested a hearing.  Continue reading →

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A new analysis of data culled from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics paints a bleak picture for the workers we entrust with the care of some of our most vulnerable citizens, and in turn raises questions about how their care might be impacted. nursing home injury

The federal agency’s newest release of non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private employers indicated approximately 2.9 million workers were injured annually in 2016, which represents a rate of 2.9 cases for every 100 full-time employers. State-operated nursing and residential care facilities had a rate of workplace injuries and illnesses that, on average, was about 13.7 cases per 100 full-time workers. That’s an increase from 12 per 100 just a year earlier. Privately-owned skilled nursing facilities, meanwhile, as well as those operated by local governments reported injury rates that were 6.5 and 6.1, respectively. In total, skilled nursing facilities in all three categories reported nearly 260,000 work-related injuries and illnesses that year, with nearly 112,000 of those workers requiring days away from work, job transfers or job restrictions on the kind of work they could do. This reflects research released in 2012 by RTI International that 60 percent of nursing assistants in nursing homes incur some type of occupational injuries, ranging from back injuries to black eyes to bites and physical violence.

That raises substantial questions about not only what needs to be done to ensure these workers are healthy, but about the quality of care patients are receiving. For instance, many nursing homes are already understaffed as it is, and the problem is worsening as the population ages. When a worker is forced to take leave or work on restricted duty because of an injury, it means there is even less staff to care for patients’ day-to-day needs.  Continue reading →

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Nursing home abuse is often characterized as mistreatment of a vulnerable, elderly resident at the hands of caregivers and other staffers. However, about one in five nursing home abuse incidents involve other residents. One study published in 2016 revealed verbal taunts, physical assaults and sexual assaults were all part of the abuse those residents suffered at the hands of other residents.nursing home abuse

We saw it recently here in Florida, when The Gainesville Sun reported one facility was forced to halt admissions after two fatal incidents, one a fall and another the brutal beating of an 86-year-old resident by a 52-year-old resident with a traumatic brain injury. The younger man reportedly knocked the older man to the ground – twice – and over a two-minute stretch, while no staffers were anywhere in sight, the younger man pummeled the older victim no fewer than 56 times. The catalyst for the fight, according to news reports, was that the younger man believed the older resident had eaten his cupcake.

At the time of the incident, no staff member was attending to residents in that unit and there was no one in charge of monitoring video surveillance for that unit. By the time the staff finally got there, the beating was over. That particular 45-bed facility has a long history of resident safety violations over the last five years. Two administrators were arrested in late 2015 in separate incidents reportedly involving patient neglect. After the beating and the fatal fall, an administrator reportedly broke down while being interviewed by police, telling investigators she was “overwhelmed,” had a short staff and the employees she did have were poorly trained.  Continue reading →

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The Government Accountability Office issued a report recently that addressed instances of abuse, neglect, exploitation and other types of harm that occurred by Medicaid-funded assisted living facilities. nursing home injury lawyer

The report, “Medicaid Assisted Living Services: Improved Federal Oversight of Beneficiary Health and Welfare is Needed,” the GAO indicated that both federal and state Medicaid agencies are failing in endeavors of effective monitoring of assisted living facilities – meaning residents are more vulnerable to abuse and neglect. This 52-page report was long-anticipated, and it underscores the lack of enforcement when it comes to baseline standards expected of assisted living facilities and their care of older residents.

The first problem that more than half of state Medicaid service agencies were unable to reveal the nature or number of “critical incidents” that occurred in these facilities. Three of them aren’t even monitoring deaths that are unexplained or unexpected. Eight states don’t track suspected criminal activity by nursing home staffers, seven don’t track medication errors and five don’t track injuries that result in hospitalization.  Continue reading →

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Nursing home safety advocates are calling on Florida lawmakers to pass an amendment to the state constitution that would guarantee certain rights to vulnerable residents in nursing homes and assisted living centers.nursing home injury

An incident of nursing home negligence in Orlando last year – resulting in a recently announced $1 million fine by federal authorities – is the latest to spark discussion of the need for such change. According to the Orlando Sentinel, the facility assigned a single assistant to supervise a trip to a local super store with nine residents – all of whom required around-the-clock care, five of whom were in wheelchairs and three who used walkers. One needed the bathroom but the assistant was nowhere to be found, so the man attempted it on his own. He ultimately lost control of his bowels and his balance, suffering a broken hip. When the attendant rushed to aid the man,  he neglected the others.

It was this incident (along with another wherein a patient did not receive important medical treatment) that resulted in a government investigation and subsequent fine. Nearly two dozen health code violations were cited, and the facility earned a spot on the national watch list of facilities that don’t correct repeat issues. Despite the fine, advocates for safer nursing homes say it doesn’t go far enough. They want a formal bill of rights added to the constitution, where it could not be easily rolled back by lawmakers or future presidential administrations squeezed or swayed by nursing home industry lobbyists and stakeholders.

One of those calling for change leads a national nursing home advocacy group, and says the public is largely unaware about the way these facilities are run and the risk they pose to residents. He noted it’s telling that even 12 nursing home resident deaths of heat-related illness after Hurricane Irma – all classified as homicides – were not enough to spur industry change. The facility may yet lose its license and Gov. Rick Scott has asked the facilities to maintain backup generators that can provide at nearly 100 hours of fuel so temperatures can stay at a safe level in the event the power goes out for an extended time. The governor has also asked for the panel that combs the state’s constitution every two decades for a determination potential changes pertaining to the protection of nursing home residents. Proposal 88 is now being considered by the commission and is the public hearings stage. If the panel approves it, the issue then goes to voters this fall.  Continue reading →

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Florida is known to have some of the broadest public records laws in the country. That extended to nursing home abuse and neglect records, kept by state health regulators. However, as The Miami Herald recently reported, those records have been wiped from the state’s online database, in what appears to be an erosion in public records access. nursing home abuse

Approximately three months ago, The Herald reported, the state scrubbed its website, which previously made readily accessible reports of nursing home violations that put residents in immediate jeopardy. It’s not that the records themselves are no longer public. Anyone can contact the Agency for Health Care Administration and ask for it. However, you have to know exactly what you’re looking for and whom to ask. You will most likely be required to wait and you’ll probably have to pay – something that was not required previously under the state’s online system.

On the pages that previously provided such information for free, the AHCA now directs the public to a different site run by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. That site fails to provide as much detail as the AHCA had before (though all reports had been screened and redacted for medical privacy). And while the AHCA does offer basic spreadsheets that rank nursing homes on a host of criteria, providing families with some basis on which to compare, but these reports are scant on details and lack transparency. Continue reading →

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