Nursing Home and Home Health Agency Negligence
For much of our lives we relied upon the love, support and care of our dear elders. Our parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and other loved ones raised us, protected us, nurtured us and taught us to be self-sufficient. As we grew older, the roles were reversed and it became our loving duty and responsibility to take care of our elders.
Unfortunately, we are not always able to take care of our elders in our own homes, so we look to what we hope will be the next best solution. There are several options available, including placement in a nursing home, assisted living facility or other residential care center. According to data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Florida has many nursing homes and nursing home beds:
- 689 – number of nursing homes in Florida
- 83,545 – number of nursing home beds in Florida
Home Health Care Agency Negligence
Another option, home health care, allows the client to stay at home and get daily or scheduled care in their own surroundings. The CDC’s most recent data reveals there were approximately 12,400 home health care agencies in the US. Home health care agencies send their nurses and direct care employees to the consumer’s home. The sad reality is that home health care agencies and workers are often negligent in their duties, or worse.
Nursing Home Abuse in Florida
Unfortunately, no matter how careful you might be in selecting a nursing home or home health agency, abuse and neglect is always possible. And in Florida, nursing home abuse has become rampant. Abuse may take many forms, including:
- Neglect - not attending to the resident or the resident’s needs
- Abandonment - leaving the resident or not showing up at all
- Lack of medical care; lack of proper care
- Unlicensed health providers, staff, nursing homes
- Physical abuse – harsh physical treatment, often resulting in injury
- Sexual abuse – by staff and other residents
- Financial and property abuse – thievery and/or conversion of personal funds, assets and personal property
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
There are many signs of abuse, including, but certainly not limited to the following examples:
- Unwashed, unclean resident
- Bedsores from not changing the resident's position a minimum of every two hours
- Infections from bedsores and untreated wounds and conditions
- Dirty sheets and pillowcases, unlaundered clothes
- Unsanitary conditions and areas - bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, dining areas, etc.
- Unexplained bruises, injuries, cuts, broken bones
- Emotionally distraught, nervous, won’t talk about injuries or maltreatment
- Sedating resident unnecessarily, often perpetually (chemical restraint)
- Physical restraint and containment – strapping patient to bed or chair; restricting physical movement, locking doors
- Weight loss unexplained – resident may be unfed, poorly fed or fed the wrong food
- Medications are not taken or not provided
- Communication with family not allowed or made difficult
- Personal items missing or stolen by staff or allowed to be stolen
Nursing Home Resident’s Rights Are Guaranteed by Law in Florida
Nursing home residents in Florida have an extensive number of rights, as proscribed by Fl. Stat. 400.022.
These include but are not limited to the following:
- The right to be free of mental and physical abuse
- The right to be treated with courtesy and dignity
- The right to religious and civil liberties
- The right to independent personal decision
- The right to present grievances against staff
- The right to uncensored communication
- The right to see family
- The right to manage their own financial affairs
- The right to be informed of medical treatment
- The right to refuse medical treatment
Victims of Nursing Home Abuse in Florida
If you or a loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse, it is crucial to understand that help is available. Nursing homes are licensed and regulated by the state. They have a legal duty to provide treatment that is consistent with a reasonable standard of care. If there is a violation of that duty - if a resident is abused, harmed, maltreated or otherwise neglected - there may be both criminal and civil liability.
This means that in addition to the individuals at fault potentially being charged with a criminal offense (such as assault or sexual abuse), they may be held financially accountable in a nursing home negligence or medical malpractice lawsuit. Further, if a loved one lost their life in a nursing home due to negligence or mistreatment, the legal heirs may pursue compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit.
You can reach Personal Injury Lawyer J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo by dialing his direct number at (786) 272-5841, calling the main office at (305) 461-1095, or Toll Free at 1 (866) 71-CLAIM or email J.P. directly at [email protected].