Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Lawyers in Ocala, FL
You helped a family member or a close friend move into a nursing home with the expectation that the facility would provide attentive care, guidance, and fun activities for your senior as he or she headed into the golden years. What you didn’t expect was to hear reports of abuse or neglect. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse across the nation has reached epidemic proportions, according to a variety of reliable independent resources.
Rating Your Nursing Home
Before we get further, here are two immediate resources to rate your Ocala nursing home.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services created these resources, which rate facilities across the U.S. on nine separate quality measures.
Types of Nursing Home Abuse
Examples include: staff members hitting, punching, or violently physically restraining residents; staff members intentionally overdosing patients on their own medications to keep them “quiet”; or withholding food or water.
Negligence is potentially even more of a problem than abuse. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 40% of U.S. nursing homes are understaffed by an unbelievable 50%. In other words, the staffing shortage is nationwide. Why is neglect so scary? Because elderly patients often can get very sick without attentive care. For instance, say your great aunt just got out of surgery, and she has to stay on bed rest for two weeks. If someone does not attend to her, she can get bed sores, which in turn can get infected and cause all sorts of complications with her post-operative care and can even lead to systemic infection and death.
Although most nursing home workers are well intentioned, a few people actually live to prey on the elderly by trying to literally pick their pockets or get them to do things like hand over credit cards or co-sign on loans. And in some cases, sexual abuse can even occur – as despicable as this may sound.
It’s difficult to think about an elderly person being neglected or abuse in a nursing home or elder care facility. In many cases when neglect occurs in assisted living facilities, the patients are unable to convey what has happened. There are multiple guidelines imposed by law in the State of Florida that cover the management of nursing homes and assisted living facilities. These guidelines protect the rights of victims who have experienced mistreatment or neglect. Contact the Ocala nursing home abuse lawyers at Farah & Farah immediately if you or a loved one has been exploited in a nursing care center in Florida.
How To Spot Mistreatment & Neglect in Nursing Homes
Often, mistreatment and neglect in assisted living facilities fall under the radar and aren’t noticed. Family members of the family are often worried about reporting physical or mental abuse on account because they are not aware of their options, or because they are worried about the consequences. Here are some typical signs if you suspect mistreatment:
- Unreported Ailments and Injuries: If you see that a relative has with sores, lacerations or other types of wounds and there is no written record about what caused it, mistreatment or neglect may be occurring.
- Bruising: The location of bruising is important. For example, bruises on the lower limbs or elbows indicate that the person might have been tightly grabbed or put in restraints. Older people are more susceptible to bruising, but elder care facilities should be aware of this and take appropriate precautions when handling patients.
- Pressure Sores and Bedsores: For patients who are permanently bedridden, bedsores can develop when patients are not moved or repositioned regularly. In nursing home neglect cases, pressure sores are quite common.
- Unexplained Significant Weight loss: Another symptom of neglect is weight loss, and if obvious weight loss has occurred, it could possibly indicate that dietary needs are being ignored.
- Lack of Hygiene: Assisted living facilities are obligated to monitor and maintain the hygiene of residents. When your family member is not thoroughly clean (including clothing and surroundings), that may be a sign of neglect.
- Signs of Blood or Bleeding: Any sign of blood should be a warning signal that the person is experiencing abuse. Note specific location of the blood because nursing home residents can be victims of sexual abuse.
- Injuries From Slips and Falls: Elderly care facilities are responsible for maintaining walking ramps or handrails to prevent likely injuries.
- Chemical Restraint: Some cases of mistreatment involve aging patients who are given inappropriate dosages of chemicals and medications to control or subdue aggressive behavior. Side effects of large doses, or medicine that harmfully interact with other medications, can have severe consequences if left unchecked.
Laws On Elder Care Facilities in Florida
All employees of nursing home facilities are required to adhere to rules set in place by the Florida Department of Health (FDH). Prior to employment there is a minimum number of hours required for certification of assistants and health providers. Facilities in Florida are required to provide at least one dietary or nutrition professional, a nurse, and a doctor, all of whom need to be registered and physically present at the location. All employees of senior care facilities are required to pass a criminal background check and provide proof of immunization before employment begins. Patients and residents at nursing homes must have access to emergency care and attention, psychological guidance, and prescription medications. All occupant have the right to enjoy communal activities, healthy and balanced meals, satisfactory exercise, plus a peaceful existence. Being left alone to suffer or to endure mistreatment is something that no one should have to face.
There must be documentation of abuse if an employee violates any of the rights or standards to which residents are entltled. Assisted living residents in Florida have the legal right to sanitary conditions. These conditions are specified by Florida legislation. All occupants should have access to a kitchen/dining space and restroom with secure circumstances. Their living quarters must be kept clean, including for fresh sheets and clothing. Heating and air conditioning are required, as is access to hot water. The regulations for Florida nursing home facilities also require access to sanitary tap water, and appropriate pest control throughout the facility.
Penalties For Elderly Care Physical or Mental Abuse
In Florida you can file civil lawsuits against owners or specific employees of facilities, and you can file criminal charges for certain acts. Any staff members who do not document issues that go against legislation may be subject to criminal and civil penalties. Owners of senior living facilities must adhere to the same degree of scrutiny. In most instances, when abuse or neglect in nursing homes is present but remedies are not applied to correct the abuses, the facility can be subjected to civil lawsuits, and the nursing home may be forced to close. You should never delay in documenting abuse or neglect. Written reports of maltreatment or negligence should be done withing 24 months from the date of the incident(s), according to the Florida statute 492.296. If you have questions related to your case, contact one of Farah & Farah’s experienced elder care abuse attorneys in Ocala, FLorida.
What Should I Do If I Suspect Assisted Living Facility Physical Abuse?
Should a case regarding neglect or maltreatment is going on, speak to one of our attorneys immediately. Schedule a free consultation with us today by calling us or filling out the form on this page.
Your Next Steps
Nursing homes may try to sweep incidences of neglect and abuse under the rug. It can be difficult to ascertain whether allegations you hear are substantial or not. For instance, say your aunt suffers from dementia or Alzheimer’s. You might be less apt to heed her concerns.
Your goal should be to attend to and respond to any allegations alertly and quickly. For a free consultation about what to do next, look to the legal team at Farah & Farah. Call (352) 205-4023, or get more information at www.farah2017.wpengine.com. Contact one of our Ocala injury lawyers immediately.