Plaintiffs in a Florida nursing home injury lawsuit were awarded $2.5 million against a memory care center found to have been negligent in its care of an elderly patient.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports there are approximately 72,000 people living in Florida nursing homes. That figure is expected to grow as the Baby Boomer generation ages into their 60s and beyond. Consider also the fact that the majority of nursing care facilities are now operated on a for-profit basis, meaning their priority is their bottom line. For-profit facilities tend to have lower rates of staffing and higher injury rates.
In this case, the victim was reportedly the subject of abuse. News4Jax reports the injury occurred in 2017, while the elderly woman with dementia was residing in a $10,000-a-month facility near the Mayo Clinic. Defendant healthcare corporation was contracted to manage her hospice and palliative care. At some point during her care, medical experts testified, she was struck by either an elbow or a fist, causing her to suffer multiple hemorrhages in one eye and a detached retina. She lost her sight for the remainder of her life. She died in 2018.
Although the nursing assistant who was working with her at the time never admitted to striking her, medical experts testified it was almost certainly a direct blow.
The defendant in this case, VITAS Healthcare Corp., is headquartered in Miami, but operates 48 hospice programs in 14 states and the District of Columbia – including 15 throughout Florida, one in Collier County.
How Common is Florida Nursing Home Injury?
Injuries in nursing homes are a serious problem. Older Floridians who live in nursing homes are hurt or fall ill at much higher rates than those living in the general population. Part of this is because they tend to be order, more likely ill and more physically frail. However, injuries are not simply a part of life in a nursing home or assisted care facility. In fact, most are preventable. Caregivers have a responsibility to ensure they are providing adequate care to patients.
Yet in a single recent year, a quarter of nursing home facilities were cited for injuries and/or deaths. More than 5,000 deaths annually are attributed to nursing home abuse, neglect or negligence.
Falls are perhaps the most common nursing home injury. There are 1.5 falls per nursing home bed every year, and 10-25 percent of those result in fractures and/or require hospitalization. Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association indicated many nursing home falls are preventable. Facilities can reduce risk by conducting routine risk factor assessments for each patients, better educating staff, using proper assistive devices and analyzing/modifying patient environments.
Falls can be evidence of negligence or neglect, which can be passive or active, occurring when a caregiver fails to protect an older adult and/or provide life’s necessities.
Nursing home abuse is less common, but still a serious concern nonetheless, especially as it’s likely vastly underreported.
Signs of Florida Nursing Home Abuse
Sometimes, indicators of abuse are obvious, such as with a sudden and serious injury. Other times, the warning signs are more subtle.
According to the National Institute on Aging, some red flags include:
- Sudden unexplained weight loss.
- Becomes withdrawn, acts agitated or aggressive.
- Displays signs of trauma (rocking back & forth, etc.).
- Has unexplained bruises, injuries, cuts, burns or scars.
- Develops bed sores (a preventable condition).
- Lacks key medical aids (dentures, hearing aids, medications, walker, glasses, etc.).
- Looks messy, unclean, soiled.
- Has living conditions that appear hazardous, unclean, unsafe.
If you have concerns that your loved one may have been the victim of Naples nursing home abuse, our dedicated, experienced injury lawyers can help answer your questions and determine your best course of action.
If you are injured in Fort Myers, Naples or Key West, contact Garvin Injury Law at 800.977.7017 for a free initial consultation.
Family of woman injured in Jacksonville memory care facility wins $2.5 million judgement, May 17, 2021, By Scott Johnson, News4Jax
More Blog Entries:
Unnecessary Treatments: Another form of Florida Nursing Home Abuse, Nov. 18, 2020, Naples Nursing Home Injury Lawyer Blog