Florida Nursing Homes Investigated for Severe Abuse and Negligence

According to a shocking Miami Herald expose that our Hartford County, Maryland nursing home abuse attorneys have been following, nursing homes throughout Florida are being accused of horrific cases of elder abuse and neglect. The series of articles in the Herald highlight an alleged breakdown in the state’s nursing home enforcement system—leaving thousands of residents in conditions that are both dangerous and decrepit.

The Herald spent a year examining assisted living facilities and found that as the number of homes have increased to accommodate the state’s major elderly population increase, Florida has failed to protect the very people it was meant to safeguard. Although the number of new nursing homes has totaled 550 in the last five years, the state has reportedly dropped necessary home inspections by 33%, allowing homes with the worst abuse and neglect offenses to remain open.

Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration oversees 2,850 facilities, and has allegedly neglected to monitor nursing home operators for abuse or neglect, investigate nursing home reports citing dangerous practices, and shut down the homes with the worst offenders—many of which lack necessary staffing, disregard nursing home regulations and deprive their residents of the most basic needs, like food, water and safety.

The investigation found that nearly once every month, residents die from nursing home abuse and neglect. In one incident, a 75-year-old dementia resident, who was at high risk for nursing home wandering, walked away from the Pinellas County nursing home, and reportedly had his body torn apart by alligators. In another home, a 71-year-old resident with a mental illness was burned so severely from being left in a bathtub that was carelessly filled with scalding hot water, that he died from a result of the burns.

Many nursing homes, according to the article, are also regularly caught using restraints that are against the law, including ropes and powerful tranquilizers. In one assisted living home a 74-year-old woman was bound for over six hours, with restraints allegedly wrapped so painfully tight that the device her tore into her flesh, causing her death.

In the Florida Panhandle, the owner of a home allegedly treated disabled residents with dire punishment for more than ten years—by denying them both food and drugs, threatening them with a stick, and beating them if they broke the rules.

Under the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987, all residents living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities are entitled to receive quality healthcare and nursing home attention in an environment that maintains and aims to improve the quality of their physical and mental health. If a Maryland nursing home resident is harmed, becomes injured or dies because of nursing home neglect or abuse, the nursing home could be held liable for Maryland nursing home negligence.

Neglected to Death, Part 1: Once pride of Florida; now scenes of neglect, Miami Herald, April 30, 2011
Florida is taking elderly down a dark, deadly path, Orlando Sentinel, May 15, 2011

Related Web Resources:

National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

Maryland Department of Aging

Related Blog Posts:

Nursing Home Fall leads to Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Motion Picture & Television Fund, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, April 4, 2011
Daughter Sues Nursing Home for Negligence After Mother Dies from Pressure Sores, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, March 10, 2011
Types of Elder Abuse and Neglect in Nursing Homes, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, March 8, 2011

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