Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers in Orlando FL
If you or a family member has experienced nursing home abuse, neglect, or any other kind of injury or insult, you may want to consider exploring your legal rights to get compensation and to prevent the offending behavior from ever happening again. This article can introduce you to key concepts and tactics you can use to demand justice.
What are some Orlando nursing home statistics?
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services found that over 91% of US nursing homes do not have sufficient staff. Four out of every ten nursing homes would have to hire 50% more people – just to meet the baseline minimum! Tragically, nursing home abuse and neglect may be responsible for tens of thousands of needless deaths and injuries every year – one study in 2003 found that over 20,000 claims of abuse and neglect were filed – and that number likely pales in comparison to the number of actual incidents that went unreported.
Without a doubt it is painful to imagine an elderly person person being abused or neglected in a nursing home. In many cases, seniors are unable to describe these situations because of their age, ailment or mental state. When no one is aware of nursing home abuse, these incidents can continue and seniors go untreated and uncared for. The State government in Florida has a set of laws and regulations aimed at the operation of nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other health care treatment providers. All residents and patients at these facilities are covered by these laws.
The Orlando nursing home abuse attorneys at Farah & Farah can help and advise you if you suspect that your loved one has suffered elder abuse or neglect. We will fight for patients’ rights and make sure that your loved ones receive justice and compensation if they have been abused. Contact one of our elder abuse lawyers immediately if you suspect that a family member has been mistreated or neglected at a nursing home facility anywhere in Florida.
How To Look For Signs of Nursing Home Abuse in Orlando
In nursing homes and assisted living facilities, physical abuse, mental abuse and patient neglect are often under the radar and aren’t reported. Friends and family members are apprehensive about reporting the mistreatment because they are unsure about what to do, and don’t know what remedies are available to prevent it from happening again. Here are some common signs to be aware of:
- Unexplained bruises, wounds or cuts: Although some elderly people tend to bruise easily, if you see unexplained bruises on the arms or legs, this may indicate that rough treatment or mishandling has occurred, or that patient restraints were used. However, nursing home staff members should be trained to be aware of the frail nature of elderly people, and should take precautions to reduce the odds of this from happening. Ask nursing home staff members whether they have documentation of these wounds.
- Bedsores and pressure sores: Some elderly people in nursing homes are permanently bedridden, and in these cases is it critical that the patient’s position be moved on a regular basis to prevent bed sores from forming. This is a common sign of elder neglect.
- Weight loss: Unexplained weight loss is another symptom of abuse, and may indicate that the person’s diet is not providing sufficient nutrition to maintain weight and health.
- Cleanliness: An elderly person’s hygiene is important for overall dignity and health, and it is the nursing home’s job to make sure that residents are kept clean. If the person’s body, clothing, bedding and general surroundings are dirty, this can be a sign of neglect and you should look into this further.
- Blood stains and bloody clothing: Although rare, sexual abuse does occur for vulnerable elder facility patients.
- Incidents of slips and falls: Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are required to provide and maintain safety measures for residents, such as ramps and handrails in all locations that may present opportunities for slips or falls
- Chemical Restraints: Some cases of mistreatment involve patients being dosed with chemicals and medications that are used to restrain them. Assisted living facility staff members sometimes provide a larger-than-normal dosage of medication to restrain dementia patients and reduce aggressive behaviors. This can have serious side effects, and various combinations of drugs might affect the person’s health and well-being.
Laws Covering Assisted Living Facility Mistreatment in Florida
Health care personnel hired by nursing homes are required to behave in accordance with laws imposed by the Florida Department of Health, or FDH. Employees must complete a specific minimum amount of education class time before being employed by assisted living facilities. Each nursing home is required to have on site an eligible nurse, dietician or nutritionist, and a medical doctor. Employees must provide proof of certain immunizations, and criminal background checks are required for all staff members of nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Patients and residents must have access to emergency treatment, psychological counseling, and medications. Patients must also have access to exercise, the ability to interact with other residents in social activities, and access to a healthy, nutrition diet plan. Nursing home residents are also entitled to a calm, peaceful environment. Elderly people should never be subjected to physical abuse or neglect under any circumstances. Any employee or staff member who violates these policies should be reported immediately. Assisted living patients also have the right to live in clean, safe environments, including dining areas and bathrooms. Clothing and bed lines should be cleaned and changed on a regular basis, and floors and floor coverings should also be kept clean. Heating, air conditioning, access to clean drinking water, and access to hot water are required. Nursing homes are also required to maintain regular treatment for pest control.
Legal Remedies for Nursing Home Neglect
Staff members employed by Florida nursing homes and elder care facilities can face civil, felony or misdemeanor criminal charges, if violations of the laws covering abuse and negligence go unreported. If a claim of abuse or neglect was filed by a staff member of an assisted living facility, but an investigation eventually determined that no violation occurred, the accused worker is protected from criminal prosecution or penalties. This is also true of charges for infractions regarding the senior living facility in general. In Florida, mistreatment which has not been documented, or neglect which has not been corrected, puts the facility at risk of extensive penalties, fines and charges in a civil lawsuit. In severe cases of abuse or exploitation, nursing homes can also be forced to shut down indefinitely or permanently. You are advised to alert the authorities about any sign of physical or mental abuse or negligence found in a family member while under the care of a nursing home. Incidents of physical abuse, mental abuse or neglect should be reported within two years of the date of the incident; but of course you should document and report the abuse as soon as possible. Call one of Farah & Farah’s nursing home abuse lawyers in Orlando if you have questions or concerns about how to get started.
What To Do If You Suspect Elder Abuse
If you think that abuse or neglect is happening to your family member, call us immediately. We are proud to advocate for senior patient’s rights in cases like these, and you may be entitled to compensation. Call us today to schedule a free consultation.
How can I find out how my nursing home rates in terms of safety and service?
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services provides detailed info online — your nursing home will be rated based on nine measures of quality. You may also check out the Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration’s website.
What are some common nursing home problems?
- Physical injury – For instance, a staff member hits or kicks an “uncooperative” resident, violently restrains him or her, or even sexually abuses him or her (yes, this disturbing act does happen with an alarming frequency)
- Emotional abuse – A staff member belittles a resident or prevents him or her from seeing friends or relatives.
- Neglect – An overwhelmed nurse neglects to turn a bedridden patient regularly; as a result, the patient develops bedsores that become infected and lead to other nasty medical consequences.
- Financial abuse – A staff member tricks a weak or confused resident into co-signing on a loan, forking over a credit card, or otherwise handing out cash out of pocket.
What can I do if I suspect nursing home neglect or abuse at an Orlando facility?
First of all, take any report seriously — even if the report is from a beloved elder who has dementia. Don’t write off any account. Do your due diligence. Investigate. Talk to the staff. Talk to relatives of other residents. And keep a detailed log of any correspondence you have with the nursing home – including verbatim reports you get from your beloved elder.
How can I get effective and timely legal help with my Orlando nursing home neglect case?
Call the Orlando nursing home abuse attorneys at Farah & Farah today at (321) 274-9202 for assistance. Farah & Farah have an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, and lead counsel Eddie Farah was voted by Folio Weekly as the “Best Lawyer in Jacksonville.” Please learn more about the firm’s credentials and philosophy at www.farah2017.wpengine.com.