Articles Posted in Nursing Home Abuse

When it comes to the coronavirus pandemic, few places share a bleaker outlook than Florida nursing homes.

The Naples Daily News reports Florida nursing home employees continue to fight vaccine mandates, which could halt new admissions.  The pushback against a federal mandate for all nursing home employees is worsening an already dire staffing shortage. Many employees have already left nursing homes for better, safer, jobs amid the nationwide shortage for hospital employees. Now, many others are threatening to leave in the face of the vaccine mandate.wheelchair3-300x200

The Daily News reports the resulting staffing shortage could halt new admissions, according to Leading Age, which represents a consortium of care providers in Florida.

While liability for preventable COVID-related injury and death is an issue in the early stages of litigation, with no clear-cut answers, our Fort Myers nursing home neglect attorneys know staffing shortage is a long-standing issue in many facilities that has directly contributed to countless preventable injuries and deaths.

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The holidays are typically the busiest time of the year for nursing homes.

Traditionally, even poorly run facilities attempted to make their best effort at the holidays, if for no other reason than that they knew a maximum number visitors would be arriving to visit with elderly friends and loved ones.nursing home abuse lawyer

Unfortunately, COVID has impacted nursing home and assisted-living residents more than any other demographic. By most estimates, a staggering 40 percent of fatal coronavirus cases have victimized either nursing home residents or staff members.

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Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, our nursing home neglect and abuse attorneys have sounded the alarm about the failures in the system that have left powerless our most vulnerable citizens and their families. In April, we wrote about nursing home coronavirus liability, and in June we outlined failures of the industry to comply with safety regulations put in place after residents died in the wake of 2017’s Hurricane Irma.

Unfortunately, because of the threat posed by COVID-19, we enter the height of the hurricane season this year with the vast majority of nursing home renursing home abuse lawyersidents isolated from friends, family and loved ones.

The threats posed by COVID are real, of course, particularly for this elderly, vulnerable population. The Wall Street Journal reported nearly half of Florida’s 7,000 virus deaths have occurred in long-term care facilities. About one in five residents in Florida is a senior citizen—the highest proportion in the U.S.

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The news coming out of the nursing home industry is not good.

At this point, our nursing home injury lawyers in Fort Myers and Cape Coral suspect the risks are well known when it comes to COVID infections in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Elderly populations and those with pre-existing conditions already face the highest risk of adverse outcomes.nursing homes

But to understand the full scope of the risk, and place blame where it belongs, it is important to separate the universal COVID risks faced by the elderly, from the unnecessary risks faced by residents as a result of negligence and ineptness.

Evidence is increasingly clear that Florida’s nursing home industry has failed to protect residents from the devastating consequences of facility-wide coronavirus outbreaks, even in the weeks since those risks became the world’s dominant news story. nursing homes

The risks have been clear from the outset– the first outbreak in the United States occurred at a five-star care facility outside Seattle, Washington.

By mid-April, at least 14 Lee County nursing homes or care facilities had tested positive for the coronavirus, according to a list Gov. Ron DeSantis finally released under pressure from the media and the threat of lawsuits from elder-care advocates.

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Many of Florida’s best performing nursing homes are about to lose millions in funding, while some of the poorest performing homes, mostly operated by large for-profit corporations, stand to be awarded millions more in state and federal funding. nursing home abuse lawyer

The funding changes were lobbied for and won by large nursing home companies in 2017. The companies sold the changes as an opportunity to increase accountability and quality of care at the state’s long-term care facilities, according to an analysis by The News-Press. 

Our nursing home neglect lawyers in Fort Myers and Cape Coral continue to battle a legislative and regulatory environment that puts little emphasis on patient safety and care. It’s incumbent upon loved ones, friends and family members, to police the system and report violations.

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A nurse was reportedly fired from her nursing home position after she reported alleged abuse of residents to authorities and now, a jury has awarded her $5.2 million for wrongful termination. nursing home abuse lawyer

Although this is technically an employment law case, it highlights the atmosphere that allows abusive, neglectful and negligent actions to persist in a nursing home setting. As our nursing home abuse attorneys know, employment actions pertaining to a nursing home can shed a lot of light into the kind of workplace it was, and therefore the type of care facility it was.

As the National Center on Elder Abuse reports, the prevalence of elder abuse today is roughly 10 percent of all seniors, who suffer physical abuse, psychological and verbal abuse, sexual abuse, financial exploitation and neglect. One ground-breaking study in New York revealed that some 260,000 elder adults in that state (or about 1 in 13) suffered some type of abuse in the previous 12 months. Data from Adult Protective Services at the state level indicate these are increasing trends, and are likely to continue on this trajectory as the population ages without adequate care facilities to meet their needs.

Potential risk factors for nursing home abuse in Florida include:

  • Dementia;
  • Experience of previous traumatic events (i.e., domestic and interpersonal violence);
  • Being female;
  • Low income/ poverty;
  • No spouse/ partner.

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Unsanitary and dangerous living conditions cannot be allowed to persist in a nursing home full of vulnerable, elderly adults – particularly when the facility accepts government money to ensure proper care. Facilities need to be hygienic to lower the threat of illnesses, health codes must be followed in serving and preparing daily meals and the site needs to be regularly and adequately cleaned. nursing home abuse lawyer

Recently, a Fort Myers nursing home was shut down by the state for reportedly failing repeatedly to address unsanitary conditions for more than a year. The site has reportedly been inspected by the state 17 times over the course of 13 months, starting in October 2015. Time and again, The News-Press reports, the facility failed inspections when investigators with the Agency for Health Care Administration uncovered conditions that were either unsanitary or unsafe for residents. Facility owners were even advised of a return date of inspection, yet still failed to address the conditions that resulted in citation. A final order was issued last month, giving the facility 30 days to find new living arrangements for the residents.

As our Fort Myers nursing home negligence attorneys can explain, this is an extreme action by the state. It’s not that this facility didn’t deserve this action. What’s more startling is the number of opportunities the facility had to take corrective action. Meanwhile, there more than a 100 residents living with conditions that weren’t safe or clean. It’s actually quite rare for the state to take this level of corrective action.  Continue reading ›

A fire at a Pennsylvania nursing home has reportedly resulted in injury to 20 residents, seven of whom were treated for smoke inhalation. No one was reportedly died from complications as of this writing, which is rather remarkable considering the flames stretched several stories high, according local news outlets.nursing home negligence attorney

The fire reportedly ripped through the home and forced the center to evacuate more than 140 residents and more than a dozen staffers. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The question of whether the nursing home could be liable for negligence following a nursing home fire will depend on several factors. These include:

  • The cause of the fire;
  • Whether the nursing home was inadequately prepared to address the fire/ evacuate residents;
  • Whether the facility followed its emergency protocol for handling such incidents (and whether staff was trained to do so);
  • Whether anyone was seriously injured or died.

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Nursing home arbitration agreements are better to avoid if at all possible. An increasing number of nursing homes include arbitration agreements in their admission paperwork, essentially mandating parties agree to forfeit their constitutional right to have a dispute decided in a court of law – publicly and in front of a jury. Instead, they agree to have disputes resolved in a non-public binding arbitration. nursing home abuse lawyer

Arbitration does a disservice to those who have suffered nursing home abuse because:

  • Consumers are at a disadvantage. Arbitrators need to make a living. While the resident bringing the case is a one-time paying customer, corporate defendants will be involved again and again. Unfortunately, some arbitrators take this fact into account, and that high compensatory damages awarded to abused resident isn’t likely to get them repeat business with the corporate client.
  • It’s expensive. While nursing home residents often qualify for court fee waivers and trial judges are compensated by taxpayers, arbitrators are private judges who are charged for their services – anywhere from $400 to $1,000 hourly.
  • They aren’t often voluntary. They are typically offered as a “take-it-or-leave-it” option. Few understand the consequences of signing the arbitration agreement.

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