Articles Posted in nursing home abuse and neglect

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Florida nursing home abuse and neglectMore than a decade ago, the federal government unveiled what was intended to be an invaluable tool to help people make what can be the most difficult choice of their lives: The nursing home to which they should entrust the care of a cherished elder loved one. The system used a simple 5-star rating, with one being the worst, and five the best. But has it actually led to better care and fewer instances of Florida nursing home abuse and neglect?

According to an in-depth investigation by The New York Times, the answer is: Unlikely. Reporters analyzed the underlying data that powers those databases and found it to be fundamentally flawed, providing a heavily distorted picture of the level of care offered at nursing homes across the country.

As our Florida nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys understand it, many of these nursing homes fudged self-reported data to government regulators (specifically, the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services). The CMS ratings system that is shared with consumers relies on a mixture of health inspector reports from on-site checks as well as self-reported data. Continue reading

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Florida nursing home injuryPlaintiffs 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.

As Naples nursing home injury lawyers, we expect unfortunately to see cases like these increase as the demand for elder care rises and the nursing shortage (exacerbated by COVID) continues.

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. Continue reading

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Florida nursing home injuries

Billing state and federal government agencies for an unnecessary treatment of nursing home patients not only cheats taxpayers, but it can also lead to Florida nursing home abuse. This type of healthcare fraud involves improper, inflated, or otherwise unlawful billing of government and private insurers that fund nursing home residents’ daily care. As our Naples, Florida nursing home abuse lawyers can explain, the vulnerable adults who live in these facilities are inevitably affected.

Unnecessary intensive care – particularly at the end of life – may result in significant profits for the nursing homes, but it can increase pain, exhaustion, and suffering of the patient. It can also delay palliative or hospice care and might even accelerate their decline.

In one study published not long ago in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, researchers reported a 65 percent increase in the number of nursing home residents receiving “ultra-high” rehab services – most within the last seven days of their lives. The study solely looked at New York nursing homes, but our Naples nursing home injury lawyers know this is a Florida issue as well.

The Naples Daily News reported that the state’s largest nursing home provider faces a $255 million judgment for systematic fraud of the government by providing unnecessary treatments to patients; as we will further detail, there is little doubt that this constitutes nursing home abuse.

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nursing home injury lawsuitNursing homes are on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic, with patients in long-term care facilities reportedly comprising one-third of the virus’s fatalities in most states. Though this situation is unprecedented, the pandemic has highlighted problems the industry grappled with long before the novel coronavirus hit. Issues like staff shortages and staff who are poorly-trained and inadequately-supervised have always been problematic. They have just become more exacerbated by the health crisis. This is why families, patient advocates, and personal injury lawyers are alarmed about a wave of requests from the nursing home industry to state governments to free them of “any liability, civil or criminal,” under certain conditions for nursing homes, hospitals, and other facilities.

As USA Today recently reported, The Florida Health Care Association recently sent one such request to Governor Ron DeSantis. The executive director for the Florida nonprofit Families for Better Care characterized the request as “asking for forgiveness in advance.” The FHCA counters that in the midst of a public health crisis, health care workers should be granted the ability to direct their attention and skills to help people – without having to worry about, “being sued for making tough decisions while trying to comply with government directives.”

Our team at The Garvin Injury Law has a great deal of respect for the nursing home employees doing their best to care for the elderly and disabled in a difficult and dangerous situation. The problem our Fort Myers nursing home injury lawyers see with a blanket request for nursing home immunity is that it exaggerates the industry’s vulnerability to frivolous injury lawsuits. At worst, it gives poorly-run facilities an excuse to skimp on care, leaving patients victimized by abuse or neglect with no legal recourse. Continue reading

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South Florida nursing home abuse attorneyThe prevalence of Florida nursing home abuse is one of the primary reasons people have such a difficult time deciding to relocate a loved one there in the first place. One of the biggest indicators of whether a facility is safe is how well it is staffed. The government-run Nursing Home Compare website makes research much easier and more transparent by publishing everything from staffing levels in comparison to the state average to details contained in health and code inspection reports. Recently, it has gone a step further, with a bright red warning icon indicating nursing homes that have failed to protect its residents from being neglected, exploited, or abused.

There are reportedly 697 nursing home facilities in the State of Florida. Nursing Home Compare marked 25 of the state’s 697 nursing homes with the red-and-white “halt” hand icon on the first day the system went into use late last year. Two of those were in Southwest Florida: ManorCare Health Services in Fort Myers and Lakeside Pavilion in Naples. Both of those facilities were already at a two-star rating, indicating the quality of their care is below average. They have also both been on the state’s “watch list” of nursing homes that red flag facilities and that have been cited for failing to protect residents from Florida nursing home abuse.

The red warning icon is assigned to those nursing homes that have “severe abuse citations,” which usually involve serious abuse or neglect, typically leading to injury or death. However, less serious violations of “potential harm” could warrant a warning icon if it is repeated two years in a row. Continue reading

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nursing home negligenceNursing home residents are one of the most vulnerable populations even in the best of circumstances. Currently, as the country is grappling with a global pandemic, nursing home residents are not only more susceptible to catching and succumbing to the virus, there is also a higher potential risk for nursing home negligence.

As our Fort Myers nursing home injury lawyers can explain, skilled nursing facilities have a legal duty to protect the elderly and vulnerable adults in their care. They do this in many ways, ranging from properly vetting employees to ensuring there is an adequate overview of care to stocking necessary supplies and medications. It also means having clear procedures in place for halting the spread of infectious disease and swiftly treating those who fall ill.

More than 7,300 nursing home patients in 19 states have died of COVID-19 since the outbreak was first reported in the U.S., but the reality is that infectious disease in long-term care facilities has been a problematic issue for years. Many patients in nursing homes and rehab centers are physically frail and their immune systems may be severely compromised. Nursing homes are responsible for developing disease prevention protocol and for enforcing it. Failure to do so, resulting in a serious or even fatal infection, may be grounds for litigation. Continue reading

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