The Increasing Problem Of Nursing Home Abuse
Americans are living longer than ever, but are still plagued by old age-related diseases such as dementia, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and limited mobility.
Together, this means that there is a greater demand for long-term elder care now than ever before, especially in Florida, which has one of the highest percentages of senior citizens in the entire United States.
According to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, there are currently 681 licensed nursing homes in Florida, with room for more than 83,000 residents.
Unfortunately, licensure by itself does not necessarily guarantee quality. As demand for affordable elder care has increased, the number of nursing facilities throughout the United States has ballooned.
And as is unfortunately often the case, an sector that used to be dominated by small retirement homes, government-run facilities, and religious facilities has increasingly attracted large conglomerates whose concerns are profit first and quality second.
What Are The Elements Of A Nursing Home Abuse Or Neglect Claim
The elements of negligence law in a nursing home abuse case are the same as any other personal injury lawsuit. To prove negligence, a plaintiff must prove that four elements exist: duty of care, breach of that duty, causation, and damages. Any claim that fails to meet each of these factors may not be viable.
Our experienced nursing home abuse lawyers in Florida will assess the evidence in your case and develop a strategy to prove each of these elements:
- Duty of care: To recover damages due to abuse or neglect, a nursing home or assisted living resident must show that the defendant owed them a duty of care. In terms of these types of cases, a nursing home facility and its staff obviously owe their residents a high degree of care it is the job of the staff to ensure the well-being and health of their residents.
- Breach of duty: A survivor of nursing home abuse also must identify that the defendant breached the duty of care owed to the plaintiff. Any violation of the rights guaranteed to a nursing home resident under state or federal law could consist of a breach of the duty of care.
- Causation: Nursing home residents must prove that neglect, abuse, or exploitation was the direct cause of damages.
- Damages: Damages are the losses nursing home residents and their families sustain as a result of neglect or abuse. You must be able to prove that negligence on the part of nursing home staff and/or the facility resulted in actual damages.
Nursing Home Abuse Laws And Attorneys In Florida
Florida Laws and Lawyers For Nursing Home Abuse
With nursing home abuse on the rise in Florida, its more important than ever to report suspected abuse. There was a 74% increase in reported nursing home abuse in Florida from 2011-2015.
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Sexual Abuse In Nursing Homes
Sexual abuse of the elderly is any type of sexual contact or behavior involving a resident that is not consensual. This type of abuse can involve unwanted and inappropriate touching and exposure of private parts.
Sexual abuse in assisted living facilities often involves sexual contact with a person unable to consent because of incapacitation or mental deficiency. This is one of the most egregious forms of sexual abuse.
Some signs that your loved one is experiencing sexual abuse in a nursing home can include:
- A new diagnosis of STDs or genital infections
- Bruises or bleeding on genitals
- Stained or torn underwear
- Sudden changes to your loved ones personality or behavior
- Refusal to have visitors
Tampa Nursing Home Negligence Faqs
Around 1.4 million people currently live in nursing homes across the U.S., with most of them between the ages of 75 and 94 years old and many of them choosing to live in Tampa. Many of those individuals have moved to long-term nursing care because they need assistance with personal care tasks, such as using the toilet, showering, cooking, managing medications, and mobility. Additionally, many of these individuals suffer from serious medical conditions, cognitive declines, and other issues that cause family members to turn to a nursing home to keep their loved ones safe.
Unfortunately, an estimated 90 percent of nursing homes hire too few staff to provide adequate care for all residents. This insufficiency leads to injuries, including falls, bedsores, fractures, or even unexplained deaths. Often these injuries go unreported, particularly if the victim cannot explain what is happening due to cognitive impairments or fear. Families cant help, as they often do not know the warning signs of nursing home abuse or neglect. Most studies indicate that only 20 percent of nursing home neglect and abuse is reported.
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What To Do If Your Loved One Has Been Abused In A Nursing Home
If you believe your loved one is experiencing nursing home abuse, its important to take action right away. Each Florida nursing home facility should have a strict protocol for investigating abuse. Report the incident or your concerns about warning signs of abuse to nursing home administration.
The incident should then be documented, and the administration should open an investigation, possibly suspending involved caretakers or nursing home staff until the issue is resolved.
You may also want to file a police report with law enforcement. This could help ensure the issue is resolved and that any parties who inflicted harm or neglected your loved one are no longer allowed to care for them or others.
Finally, consider contacting a Florida nursing home abuse lawyer for a free case evaluation. An attorney can help you seek compensation for any personal injury and make sure responsible parties are held accountable for the abuse.
What To Do After Experiencing Florida Nursing Home Abuse Or Negligence
If youre reading this now, chances are you know someone who is a Florida victim of nursing home abuse. You might not know what to do about it. Here are some steps to start taking proper action:
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Are Medical Providers Required To Report Suspected Tampa Nursing Home Abuse
In Florida, anyone who knows about or suspects elder abuse must file a report with Floridas Adult Protective Services Division which will promptly investigate the situation. In particular, mandated reporters include physicians and other individuals that provide medical care and treatment to the elder, as well as any mental health providers, religious or spiritual healers, and nursing home staff.
Orlando Law Firms Will Make Nursing Home Abusers Pay For Their Actions
Abuse and neglect in nursing homes is far too common, and it needs to stop. Florida nursing abuse attorneys can help you seek justice on behalf of the resident who has been neglected by negligent staff members. Mistreatment in nursing homes is a blight on the state of Florida. The Horst Law Firm vigorously fights nursing home abuse and aggressively represents its victims. Experienced lawyer Robert J. Horst handles cases related to elder abuse in nursing homes that include but are not limited to:
- Injuries resulting from falls and other avoidable accidents
- Dehydration and malnutrition
- Physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional abuse
- Financial exploitation including forgery and theft
- Medical malpractice
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What Is Nursing Home Abuse
Neglect in a nursing home or other care facility is generally the result of negligence rather than active misconduct. Abuse, on the other hand, is almost always an intentional act of wrongdoing. In addition to civil liability for facilities and the members of staff engaged in the abuse, criminal charges may be brought against abusers.
Abuse in a nursing home may be physical, emotional, sexual, financial, and/or medical in nature.
What Is Neglect In A Nursing Home
Neglect is the failure of nursing home staff to provide reasonable care for residents. Most cases of neglect are the result of issues such as:
- Residents isolated by staff members
- Residents who are incapable of or afraid to report neglect
Nursing home neglect may be physical, emotional, and/or medical.
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Why You Should Speak To A Tampa Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
Many people see Florida as a great retirement destination, as seniors and their families feel safe moving to the Sunshine State. While the weather allows seniors to stay independent longer, there may come a time when they decide to move into a nursing home or long-term care facility. For some families, this is a difficult decision.
When they have made that decision, the next step is to find the perfect home for you or your senior loved one.
Here are a few examples of such facilities:
- Bayshore Pointe Nursing Home and Rehab Center
- Gandy Crossing Care Center
- Whispering Oaks
- Ybor City Center for Rehabilitation and Healing
You choose with the safe that the facility will properly care for your loved one. However, when negligence occurs, it can cause harm to your loved one and their future.
You should not be scared to speak up for your loved one or yourself. If you think you discovered negligence, you will need a Tampa nursing home negligence attorney from Boohoff Law P.A. We work tirelessly to stand up to negligent long-term care facilities in the Tampa area. Contact our Tampa personal injury lawyers today.
Verbally Abusing Patients Can Harm Their Health
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for nursing home residents to experience verbal abuse from nursing home staff. Staff may try to bully and intimidate residents into complying with their wishes. It can be more difficult to detect signs of verbal abuse in your elderly loved one, but if you start to notice changes in their mood, eating habits, and physical health, it is worth making additional inquiries.
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What Constitutes Neglect In A Nursing Home
Neglect is a form of abuse that is not always intentional. While some cases of neglect are due to a caregivers desire to harm the resident, other instances occur due to a lack of resources or understaffing at the facility.
Examples of nursing home neglect include:
- Failure to provide residents with adequate hydration
- Failure to serve food to residents
- Failure to assist residents with mobility needs accidental falls are common in nursing homes, and they often occur because residents dont have adequate support when walking, standing up, getting out of bed, etc.
- Failure to assist residents with self-care activities such as feeding, getting dressed, bathing, grooming, cleaning living quarters, and more
- Failure to administer medications to residents, including administration of the wrong medication, errors in dosage, etc.
- Failure to monitor patients for medical conditions and provide necessary care
- Failure to supervise residents for behavioral issues such as aggression, isolation, etc.
Neglect of the property can also make a nursing home or other care facility unsafe. Slip and falls and other injuries may occur due to poor cleaning and maintenance, while negligent security can put residents at risk of victimization by criminals who unlawfully enter the premises.
How Can I Choose The Right Nursing Home For My Loved One
Unfortunately, abuse and neglect can happen in any nursing home. However, one of the best ways to keep your loved one safe is to evaluate each facility closely before making a decision.
As always, consider the individual needs, preferences, and desires of your loved one and evaluate the facilitys ability to meet those requirements. Base your decision on your personal visits and observations, word-of-mouth referrals from friends or other relatives, written materials from the facility owner, and state and federal agency websites such as the Florida Nursing Home Guide and Medicares Nursing Home Compare website.
The following considerations and questions may help to guide you in choosing a nursing home for your loved one:
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How Much Is A Nursing Home Abuse Or Neglect Case Worth
The amount of compensation you can recover in a nursing home negligence case depends on the specific losses you and your family have sustained. Damages in a nursing home abuse or neglect claim may include:
- Medical expenses: Seniors may require extensive medical treatment to restore their health after abuse or neglect. You may be entitled to compensation for both the current medical bills and the expected costs of further treatments.
- Out-of-pocket costs: You and your loved ones may also be entitled to compensation for other expenditures connected with neglect or abuse. These damages may include the cost associated with travel to and from appointments with doctors and therapists, home healthcare services, personal mobility devices, moving your loved one to your home or another facility, etc.
- Pain and suffering: Physical pain and/or mental distress are common among survivors of abuse and neglect. Although pain and suffering may not have an exact dollar value, you deserve compensation for the ongoing impact the ordeal has on your life or that of your loved one.
- Punitive damages: A jury or judge may award punitive damages in a nursing home abuse or neglect claim if the defendants actions constitute intentional misconduct or gross negligence . Your lawyer can advise you whether or not punitive damages may be recoverable if your case goes to trial.
Punitive damages may also be recoverable in a nursing home wrongful death case.
Broad Rights Of Floridas Nursing Home Residents
Under Florida law, nursing home residents have a right to independent personal decision-making within the nursing home facility. This means that employees cannot force residents to partake in activities or do things that they do not with to do. Physical force is never acceptable under any circumstance unless the resident is putting themselves or others in danger. Underpinning this right is the responsibility of the nursing home to both publicly state the existence of the right, as per Florida statutes 400.002, and for its staff to encourage and assist residents in the fullest possible exercise of the right.
As unfortunate as it may seem, Florida nursing home staff often mistreat residents, by abusing and neglecting them in a variety of different ways. Some different types of nursing home abuse and neglect include:
- Hitting and physically abusing the resident
- Sexually abusing the resident
- Denying the resident food and water
- Denying the resident adequate shelter or comforts and
- Stealing money from the resident.
If you suspect that your loved one has experienced any or all of these types of abuse and neglect by a nursing home provider, it is imperative that you speak with a Florida nursing home abuse lawyer immediately to find out how you can be compensated.
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What Rights Do Florida Nursing Home Residents Have
Florida law clearly states the rights of nursing home residents under the Resident Bill of Rights. Many physical and emotional injuries that result from nursing home negligence are also violations of these rights.
The Florida Nursing Home Residents Bill of Rights includes:
- The right to a safe and decent living environment, free from abuse and neglect.
- The right to be treated with dignity and respect for individuality and privacy.
- The right to use personal property as long as it does not threaten the safety of other nursing home residents.
- The right to private communication with others and unrestricted access to telephones.
- The right to visit with anyone between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.
- The right to maintain independence and participate in the nursing homes activities.
- The right to manage financial affairs if able.
- The right to share a private room with a spouse.
- The right to exercise and spend time outdoors.
- The right to attend religious services.
- The right to get help to obtain healthcare.
- The right to complain or request changes in nursing home policies without fear of retribution.
Under Florida law, if a nursing home, a staff member, or a caregiver violates a residents rights, the court can impose a $2,500 fine. Florida law also permits residents to take legal action by bringing forth a personal injury lawsuit to seek damages in civil court.
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