Reporting Nursing Home Abuse in Florida
It’s a scenario few people want to imagine: you visit an elderly relative in a nursing home only to find that he or she is suffering from an unexplained bruise or cut and is too afraid to tell you what happened. What do you do? Few people want to immediately accuse a nursing home of abusing or neglecting their residents. At the same time, you need to protect vulnerable family members who can no longer protect themselves.
In Florida’s nursing homes, abuse and neglect are all-too-common problems. To hold a nursing home legally accountable, you should consider filing a lawsuit against the facility for the injuries your loved one has suffered.
Signs of Abuse or Neglect
Rarely will a nursing home admit that one of its staff has abused or neglected a loved one. Also, many of our elder family members can no longer communicate, suffering from dementia or another ailment. Even when family members can talk, they might be so afraid of staff that they withdraw, refusing to say more than a few words to you.
Nevertheless, nursing home abuse and neglect have common red flags you should be aware of, such as:
- Injuries without any explanation or conflicting explanations
- Unsanitary conditions (dirty floors or bathrooms)
- Lack of grooming or bathing
- Dramatic weight loss
- Sudden illnesses without any adequate explanation
If you notice these, you should follow up with staff. There might be an innocent explanation. However, many injuries occur because an elderly ward wandered off unattended and fell, or aggressive residents attacked your loved one.
Report Abuse to the State
Concerned family members can report suspected nursing home abuse to the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA). You can submit a complaint form at their website, or you can call toll-free 888-419-3456. After receiving your complaint, AHCA will review it to determine whether they have authority to investigate and whether they find it sufficiently serious to look into. After an investigation, you will be notified of the results.
Although abuse and neglect are rampant in Florida’s nursing homes, the state rarely intervenes in any meaningful way. In fact, according to a story in the Naples Daily News, some of the state’s nursing homes have been implicated in the deaths of several residents and have committed hundreds of violations. Yet, the state refuses to shut them down. Since 2013, over 50 nursing homes received notification for more than 100 violations.
Because of this lack of regulatory muscle, nursing homes have few incentives for improving the care they offer. One way to force change, however, is to hit the nursing homes where it hurts: in the pocketbook.
An injured resident might be able to bring a lawsuit against the nursing home for negligent care or for assault and battery, depending on the circumstances. If they prevail, then they can receive compensation for medical care to fix their injury as well as for emotional distress and for pain and suffering. After losing a lawsuit, a nursing home might be more motivated to make improve the supervision and hiring of their staff.
Speak with a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer in Volusia County
Elderly loved ones are easy targets of abuse or neglect, but they do not have to suffer alone. At Bundza & Rodriguez in Daytona Beach, we have gone up against some of the state’s most powerful nursing homes, and we know how to get compensation for your loved one. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.