Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers in Jacksonville Beach, FL
Jacksonville Beach is supposed to be a retiree’s paradise. Florida’s generous sunshine, easy weather, and comfortable lifestyle should empower seniors to live out their golden years in happiness. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse and negligence robs many seniors of what could potentially be the best and most graceful years of their lives. According to a report by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, over 91% of U.S. nursing homes lack good staffing. Amazingly, around 40% of U.S. nursing homes need 50% more staff in order to comply with the federal government’s minimal care standards. Add to this the fact that nursing homes often pay very low wages (often less than what fast food workers earn), and you can see why so many people and agencies are so concerned about elder care abuse.
What are common kinds of abuse and neglect that occur at Jacksonville Beach nursing homes?
- Physical abuse — staff members hitting, kicking, or inhumanely restraining seniors
- Emotional abuse — staff members yelling at, demeaning, humiliating or threatening/blackmailing residents
- Sexual abuse
- Financial abuse — staff members get seniors to offer up money, hand over credit cards, or even co-sign on loans
- Negligence — over staffed, underpaid, or just plain unqualified staff members ignore residents who need medical, emotional, or logistical help. For instance, a senior recovering from an operation may be required to rest in bed. If a staff member or someone else does not regularly turn the senior to avoid pressure points or bed sores, infections can result, putting health at risk and even threatening the well-being of other people at the nursing home.
Unfortunately, many people who have family members in nursing homes don’t consider the fact that physical and mental abuse and neglect occurs. Senior residents of elder care facilities sometimes are not able to communicate what is happening because of their age, mental state or ailment. Which means that abuse or negligence can continue until it is way too late. In Florida, guidelines and rules are legally imposed by the State government covering the management of assisted living facilities. These requirements and guidelines are in place to protect aging patients from severe injury and possibly loss of life. Farah & Farah’s nursing home abuse attorneys in Jacksonville Beach represent victims and their families who have been mistreated in assisted living facilities throughout Florida, to ensure that abusive behavior stops and that the victims are compensated for the pain and suffering. We have experience with cases of emotional and physical maltreatment, and patient neglect. If your loved one has been abused or neglected while under the care of a Florida nursing home, call us immediately to discuss your options for obtaining justice.
How You Can Detect Assisted Living Facility Neglect and Maltreatment
Too frequently, physical or mental abuse and neglect in nursing homes end up unreported. Usually, friends and family are apprehensive of reporting the maltreatment because of not being aware of what exactly is available as far as resources are concerned for combating against it. The key aspect of recognizing abuse and neglect inside of an elderly care facility will be ready to identify it. These are typically several warning signs:
- Unreported infections and injuries: If your family member is showing signs of sores, lacerations, or other wounds and there is no record of what caused it, this can be a sign that mistreatment or neglect is occurring.
- Bruising: The fact is that the elderly people bruise easily, but staff members at nursing homes should have been trained to recognize this fact, and they should take appropriate care when handling patients to minimize or eliminate bruising. The location of bruises can sometimes indicated what happened. For example, if you notice bruising on the arms or the lower limbs, this can indicate aggressive handling or possibly that restraints were placed on the person.
- Bedsores: Some patients in nursing homes are permanently bedridden or confined to bed for long periods of time, and can develop bedsores which may become infected and cause serious illness if the sores are ignored. Nursing home staff should be aware of this possibility, and they have a responsibility to move or reposition patients regularly to prevent bedsores from developing. Bedsores are a common result of neglect in assisted living facilities and nursing homes.
- Significant Loss of Weight: Unexplained rapid or significant weight loss might be a sign that your family member’s dietary & nutritional needs are not being met.
- Good hygiene: Elder care facilities have a duty and responsibility to make sure that that residents stay clean and have good hygiene. This includes regular bathing, clean clothes and bed linens, and clean surroundings such as rooms, carpeting and flooring. These facilities are also required to have a pest control program to keep the entire facility free of roaches and other pests. If you notice anything that runs contrary to this, it could indicate patient neglect.
- Signs of Blood or Bleeding: Unexplained signs of blood or bloodstains really can be a sign mistreatment. Observe the location of the blood since patients could also be the victim of sexual abuse.
- Injuries From Slips & Falls: Many nursing home residents are elderly and sometimes are unstable on their feet. Facilities are responsible for having reasonable precautions throughout to prevent accidental injuries such as slips and falls. Walking ramps and handrails should be installed and maintained to prevent/minimize these types of injuries.
- Chemical Restraints: A common claim of physical abuse in nursing homes is overmedication of individuals. Sometimes, chemicals or larger than normal dosages of medicine are used to subdue patients who exhibit aggressive behavior, and this can be considered as mistreatment. Overmedication can result in serious side effects, deteriorating physical condition and possible loss of life.
Florida Laws on Nursing Home Abuse
The Florida Department of Health regulates and requires that any individual working in a senior living facility obey these guidelines. Individuals must enroll in a specific amount of training class time before being employed by nursing homes or elder care facilities. The law requires that the senior living facilities must have on site a doctor, a nurse, and a dietary/nutrition expert. Employees and staff members must pass criminal background checks and provide proof of immunizations before being allowed to work. Residents and patients must have access to proper prescription drugs, medical treatment for emergencies, and mental counseling available. Every resident has the right to participate in community and social activities, as well as the right to nutritious, wholesome meals, opportunities for exercise, and the right to live in a calm, peaceful environment. Elderly individuals should never be subjected to physical or emotional mistreatment or neglect under any circumstances. Any member of staff who violates these patient rights or requirements should be reported immediately, accompanied by a written statement to document to incident. It is required that all residents be provided conditions that are sanitary. Entrances to dining facilities and bathrooms should have appropriate safety features such as walking ramps and handrails. Clothing and bedding needs to be replaced regularly, and patient living areas need to be kept clean and free of debris and clutter. It is also a requirement that heating and air conditioning are available, and that residents have access to hot water and clean drinking water.
Legal Consequences of Nursing Home Physical and Mental Abuse
Nursing homes and their employees and staff members who violate these guidelines can be subject to civil or criminal lawsuits. Violations that are unreported by staff members place those persons at risk for criminal charges and civil lawsuits. If a violation is reported and a subsequent investigation finds no wrongdoing, the employee or staff member will not be disciplined. Nursing homes or assisted living facilities that violates state rules can also face penalties. If there are reported problems of mistreatment or neglect, and procedures and corrective measures are not put into place, they can face substantial civil litigation along with the possibility that they may be shut down.
If your loved one might have been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, contact the Jacksonville Beach nursing home abuse lawyers at Farah & Farah immediately. Reports of neglect should be filed within two years of the date of the incident, according to Florida law. Our attorneys can answer your questions about how the process works.
How can you research whether your Jacksonville Beach nursing home has a good reputation?
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has a program online that allows you to explore regularly updated ratings (based on analysis of nine different measures). Go to www.medicare.gov/NHCompare/, or find information specifically about Jacksonville Beach nursing homes.
If abuse is occurring, or if you suspect that it might be occurring, what can you do?
Get in touch with the attorneys here at Farah & Farah. Our Jacksonville Beach personal injury lawyers have extensive experience in his arena, and we can provide a free, confidential, and comprehensive consultation about your matter. Call us toll free today at (904) 834-4043. Eddie Farah was voted the best lawyer in Jacksonville Beach by a well-regarded publication, Folio Weekly, and Farah & Farah has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Pursuing a nursing home negligence or abuse case can be a complicated affair, and the sooner you get effective legal representation, the faster you can potentially collect damages (such as payments for medical bills and therapy) and get your loved one out of harm’s way.