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Should You Contact an Attorney for a Florida Nursing Home Claim?

When the needs of an aging or infirm relative begin to require skilled care, many understandably turn to Florida nursing homes and related healthcare facilities for help.  Trusting strangers to care for your loved one is never easy – especially given the growing concern over resident safety at Florida nursing homes which has come under scrutiny in recent years.  For example, you may recall news reports of 12 Florida nursing home residents dying at one facility shortly after Hurricane Irma. That case resulting in a criminal investigation. These types of unfortunate cases may give rise to viable legal claim under Florida nursing home law.

Under Florida law, residents of Florida nursing homes have certain statutory rights.  Among those rights are the following:

1.  The right to civil and religious liberties.

2.  The right to private and uncensored communication.

3.  The right to present grievances.

4.  The right to participate in social, religious, and community activities.

5.  The right to examine, upon reasonable request, the results of the most recent inspection of the facility conducted by a federal or state agency and any plan of correction in effect with respect to the facility.

6.  The right to be fully informed, in writing and orally, prior to or at the time of admission and during his or her stay, of services available in the facility and of related charges for such services.

7.  The right to be adequately informed of his or her medical condition and proposed treatment.

8.  The right to refuse medication or treatment and to be informed of the consequences of such decisions.

9.  The right to receive adequate and appropriate health care and protective and support services, including social services and mental health services, if available.

10.  The right to have privacy in treatment and in caring for personal needs; to close room doors and to have facility personnel knock before entering the room (except in the case of an emergency or unless medically contraindicated).

11.  The right to be treated courteously, fairly, and with the fullest measure of dignity.

12.  The right to be free from mental and physical abuse.

13.  The right to freedom of choice in selecting a personal physician.

14.  The right to retain and use personal clothing and possessions as space permits.

These rights and others are spelled out in Florida Statute 400.002.  Violation of Florida nursing home Resident Rights can serve as independent grounds for a legal claim under Florida law.  Additionally, claims for negligence (and in some cases punitive damages) may also be asserted. However, the statutory scheme governing nursing home claims in Florida is complex and riddled with pitfalls.  If you believe you or your loved one may have such a claim, you should consult a legal professional well-versed in Florida nursing home law.

There are a number of circumstances which can lead to a Florida nursing home resident becoming needlessly harmed or injured.  Below are just a few.

Negligent Hiring and Training

Harmful or fatal errors can occur when nurses or staff are not adequately trained.  To name a few: Medication errors; failure to timely or properly follow medical orders; and failure to recognize a medical emergency.  Families rely on nurses and staff to provide day-to-day care and communicate with medical professionals as needed. With an elderly population, small problems can quickly become medical emergencies.  Bed sores (or pressure ulcers ) are a good example. Nurses and staff must be trained to prevent, identify, and treat bed sores. With adequate and prompt care, bed sores should never progress to a medical emergency.  But they often do. Like bed sores, conditions concerning blood circulation, the respiratory system, and cold-type symptoms can quickly become life-threatening if not timely and adequately addressed. Proper hiring and training is key to identifying would-be serious conditions and preventing them from causing irreparable harm or injury Florida nursing home residents.

Communication Errors

Florida nursing home residents and their families rely on nursing staff to communicate with them and those medical professionals charged with supervising resident care.  Communication errors between doctors, nurses, and other staff can result in medication errors, failure to provide needed medical equipment, and medical orders being missed or ignored.  Inaction due to a failure of communication is as likely to harm or injure a Florida nursing home resident as anything else.

Negligent Wound Care or Wound Management

Over the years, there have been countless research papers and articles authored on wound care within nursing homes.  Because of inadequate education, poor training, neglect, or indifference, skin break down continues to plague elderly residents at Florida nursing homes.  This should not be the case. With proper education, training, and care, skin wounds should almost never be permitted to progress to medical emergencies. Quite frequently, however, bed sores are permitted to progress to life-threatening stages.  This is particularly true when nursing staff fail to keep a resident’s skin clean and dry, fail to regularly reposition residents, or fail to use pressure-reducing devices as needed. For example, maceration (or skin breakdown from prolonged exposure to moisture or liquid) can occur when nursing staff ignore the basic needs of incontinent residents.  Malnutrition or dehydration can also contribute to causing bed sores.

Negligent Supervision

Due to physical or mental impairment, some residents at Florida nursing homes must be supervised while eating, walking, socializing, or participating in recreational activities.  Absent proper supervision, these Florida nursing home residents can fall, choke, harm others, forget to take needed medication, or expose themselves to dangerous conditions. Florida nursing homes should have an adequate number of trained staff available to monitor residents, anticipate injuries, and take preventative action as needed.

If you believe that a loved one suffered injury or harm while residing at a Florida nursing home because of neglect, understaffing, or inadequate care, call us for a free case evaluation.  We would be happy to investigate your claim and help you receive justice for your loved one.