NURSING HOME NEGLIGENCE
As people get older, many move into nursing homes or assisted-living facilities for care and compassion during their later years of life. Unfortunately, evidence shows that more than 50% of nursing homes in the United States are understaffed and one third of employees have been caught abusing or neglecting residents.
The dynamics of nursing homes, including but not limited to: incompetent or insufficient staff, lack of training, and emphasis on increased profits before the care of people makes the thought of allowing a family member to be left alone in such an institution unthinkable. However, in many cases, a nursing home is the only option.
What are the rights of residents of nursing homes?
The Nursing Home Residents Bill of Rights, found in Section 400.022 of the Florida Statutes provides that nursing home residents have rights including but not limited to:
- The right to civil and religious liberties;
- The right to private and uncensored communication;
- The right to present grievances;
- The right to organize and participate in resident groups in the facility;
- The right to participate in social, religious, and community activities that do not interfere with the rights of other residents;
- 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;
- The right to manage his or her own financial affairs to delegate such responsibility to the licensee;
- 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, including any charges for services not covered under Title XVIII or Title XIX of the Social Security Act or not covered by the basic per diem rates and of bed reservation and refund policies of the facility;
- The right to be adequately informed of his or her medical condition and proposed treatment, unless the resident is determined to be unable to provide informed consent under Florida law, or the right to be fully informed in advance of any nonemergency changes in care or treatment that may affect the resident’s well-being; and, except with respect to a resident adjudged incompetent, the right to participate in the planning of all medical treatment, including the right to refuse medication and treatment, unless otherwise indicated by the resident’s physician; and to know the consequences of such actions. The right to refuse medication or treatment and to be informed of the consequences of such decisions, unless determined unable to provide informed consent under state law. When the resident refuses medication or treatment, the nursing home facility must notify the resident or the resident’s legal representative of the consequences of such decision and must document the resident’s decision in his or her medical record. The nursing home facility must continue to provide other services the resident agrees to in accordance with the resident’s care plan;
- The right to receive adequate and appropriate health care and protective and support services, including social services; mental health services, if available; planned recreational activities; and therapeutic and rehabilitative services consistent with the resident care plan, with established and recognized practice standards within the community, and with rules as adopted by the agency;
- The right to have privacy in treatment and in caring for personal needs;
- The right to be treated courteously, fairly, and with the fullest measure of dignity and to receive a written statement and an oral explanation of the services provided by the licensee, including those required to be offered on an as-needed basis.
- The right to be free from mental and physical abuse, corporal punishment, extended involuntary seclusion, and from physical and chemical restraints, except those restraints authorized in writing by a physician for a specified and limited period of time or as are necessitated by an emergency.
- The right to be transferred or discharged only for medical reasons or for the welfare of other residents, and the right to be given reasonable advance notice of no less than 30 days of any involuntary transfer or discharge, except in the case of an emergency as determined by a licensed professional on the staff of the nursing home, or in the case of conflicting rules and regulations which govern Title XVIII or Title XIX of the Social Security Act. For nonpayment of a bill for care received, the resident shall be given 30 days’ advance notice. A licensee certified to provide services under Title XIX of the Social Security Act may not transfer or discharge a resident solely because the source of payment for care changes. Admission to a nursing home facility operated by a licensee certified to provide services under Title XIX of the Social Security Act may not be conditioned upon a waiver of such right, and any document or provision in a document which purports to waive or preclude such right is void and unenforceable. Any licensee certified to provide services under Title XIX of the Social Security Act that obtains or attempts to obtain such a waiver from a resident or potential resident shall be construed to have violated the resident’s rights as established herein and is subject to disciplinary action as provided in subsection (3). The resident and the family or representative of the resident shall be consulted in choosing another facility.
- The right to freedom of choice in selecting a personal physician; to obtain pharmaceutical supplies and services from a pharmacy of the resident’s choice, at the resident’s own expense or through Title XIX of the Social Security Act; and to obtain information about, and to participate in, community-based activities programs, unless medically contraindicated as documented by a physician in the resident’s medical record. If a resident chooses to use a community pharmacy and the facility in which the resident resides uses a unit-dose system, the pharmacy selected by the resident shall be one that provides a compatible unit-dose system, provides service delivery, and stocks the drugs normally used by long-term care residents. If a resident chooses to use a community pharmacy and the facility in which the resident resides does not use a unit-dose system, the pharmacy selected by the resident shall be one that provides service delivery and stocks the drugs normally used by long-term care residents.
- The right to retain and use personal clothing and possessions as space permits, unless to do so would infringe upon the rights of other residents or unless medically contraindicated as documented in the resident’s medical record by a physician. If clothing is provided to the resident by the licensee, it shall be of reasonable fit.
- The right to have copies of the rules and regulations of the facility and an explanation of the responsibility of the resident to obey all reasonable rules and regulations of the facility and to respect the personal rights and private property of the other residents.
- The right to receive notice before the room of the resident in the facility is changed.
- The right to be informed of the bed reservation policy for a hospitalization. The nursing home shall inform a private-pay resident and his or her responsible party that his or her bed will be reserved for any single hospitalization for a period up to 30 days provided the nursing home receives reimbursement. Any resident who is a recipient of assistance under Title XIX of the Social Security Act, or the resident’s designee or legal representative, shall be informed by the licensee that his or her bed will be reserved for any single hospitalization for the length of time for which Title XIX reimbursement is available, up to 15 days; but that the bed will not be reserved if it is medically determined by the agency that the resident will not need it or will not be able to return to the nursing home, or if the agency determines that the nursing home’s occupancy rate ensures the availability of a bed for the resident. Notice shall be provided within 24 hours of the hospitalization.
What are some grounds for filing nursing home abuse claims?
- Elder abuse
- Failure to property turn residents causing bedsores and skin breakdown
- Failure to monitor nutrition
- Failure to guard against falls
- Medication errors
- Negligent Hiring
- Inadequate Training
- Breach of Statutory or Regulatory Rights
If your loved one has been a victim of nursing home negligence or mistreatment, Call Amber Hall today for a free consultation.
What are some signs of nursing home abuse?
Signs of nursing home abuse are often dismissed as indicators of old age or even totally dismissed in an effort to try and disguise negligence. There are several types of nursing home abuse, each with their own set of symptoms that may indicate that a resident is being abused. The following are common signs of nursing home abuse:
- Bruises or bleeding;
- Physical pain or discomfort;
- Emotional withdrawal;
- Unexplained diseases or infections;
Nursing home abuse is often not reported because of a resident’s inability to communicate, embarrassment, or even fear of being reprimanded or intimidated by the staff members. As a result, it’s important that families of nursing home residents keep a close eye on their loved ones and seek legal counsel if they believe that abuse may have taken place. Nursing home abuse is a criminal offense and is both illegal and unacceptable, and the proper authorities should receive timely notice to prevent more abuse from occurring. If you suspect your loved one is being abused or neglected in a nursing home, contact Amber Hall Law today for a free consultation.
What should I do if I suspect nursing home abuse?
If you suspect your loved one is being abused or neglected in a nursing home, contact Amber Hall Law today for a free consultation.
What is the statute of limitations for nursing home abuse cases or neglect?
As with any type of legal action, the courts want claims made in a timely fashion.
The Florida Legislature set strict time limits within which an action for abuse of neglect occurring in a nursing home. Florida Statute 429.296 sets those time limits. According to the statute, “Any action for damages brought under this part shall be commenced within 2 years from the time the incident giving rise to the action occurred or within 2 years from the time the incident is discovered, or should have been discovered with the exercise of due diligence; however, in no event shall the action be commenced later than 4 years from the date of the incident or occurrence out of which the cause of action accrued.” Note that there are some exceptions, which apply to the statute of limitations.
If you, or a loved one, know of a family member that has been a victim of nursing home abuse, you need to contact a qualified, experienced attorney to advise you of your legal rights.