The Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyers at Kelley/Uustal represent victims of nursing home abuse and their families in cases involving substandard care. If your loved one was injured or you have lost a family member in a wrongful death incident due to the fault of a nursing facility, you have the right to take legal action. You may be eligible to collect compensation for medical bills, physical and emotional pain and suffering, and potentially punitive damages. To learn more about your rights and legal options, get in touch with our Fort Lauderdale nursing home abuse lawyers today.
What is Considered Negligence?
There are times when a nursing mistake is more than just a mistake. Nurses who do not listen to patients cries for help, who restrain their patients inappropriately, or who are negligent in their duties put patients in serious jeopardy. They may miss important signs of distress, cause significant harm through botched procedures or improper care, or put patients in harm’s way through direct neglect. When this occurs, it is unconscionable, and those nurses can – and should – be held responsible.
Injuries from Nursing Errors
Nursing errors can lead to serious and life-threatening injuries, including:
- Decubitus ulcers or bedsores
- IV infiltration leading to serious infection or amputation
- Fractures from falling out of bed
- Heart attacks
- Pulmonary Embolism
- Septic shock
Common Issues in Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuits
Kelley/Uustal is widely regarded as one of the most successful personal injury law firms in Fort Lauderdale and our firm is trusted by other experienced lawyers to handle even the toughest cases, including those involving nursing home abuse. Turn to our team for the compassionate yet aggressive representation you need to achieve justice.
We provide high-quality guidance in nursing home cases involving the following:
- Neglect, leading to bed sores, dehydration, malnutrition, lack of hygiene, or wandering from the facility
- Physical abuse, leading to broken bones, bruises, cuts, and other unexplained injuries
- Emotional abuse, including threats of harm, derogatory comments, and withdrawn behavior
- Financial abuse, including unauthorized access to a patient’s bank accounts and credit cards by nursing home staff
- Sexual abuse, leading to physical injury and changes in personality or behavior
- Wrongful death, in which the patient dies as a result of abuse or neglect
If you suspect that your loved one is being mistreated, you should immediately take action. Gather any documentation you have on your loved one’s physical and/or emotional health, conversations you have had with the resident or a staff member, photographs of any visible injuries, and any other evidence and seek legal counsel without delay.
What Are the State Regulations for Nursing Homes?
Florida state law governs the care that nursing homes in the state are expected to provide and outlines what nursing homes must do and what they are forbidden to do. Nursing homes must be inspected regularly to ensure that they are meeting these requirements and may be fined or closed if they fail to provide proper care.
Nursing Home Staff Requirements
Florida is one of a few states that have specified requirements for staff working in nursing home, with guidelines administered under the Florida Department of Health. A nursing home must have on staff at least one physician, a nurse, and a dietician who meet the legal requirements of these positions. Additional staff must be qualified and experienced. To meet those requirements the staff must take certain classes before being allowed to work in the nursing home.
All staff, regardless of position, must pass a criminal background check to ensure that they are not a danger to the residents and other staff.
Florida law requires that residents are provided a “safe, clean, comfortable, and homelike environment.” Residents should have clean clothes and bedding, clean drinking water, access to hot water, and safety features such as ramps and handrails. Nutritious meals must be provided at regular times, social activities must be regularly scheduled and daily exercise provided for all patients.
For medical needs, the nursing home must provide access to medication and emergency care when needed. In addition, the nursing home should provide mental counseling when appropriate and provide an environment free of abuse from staff and other patients.
Patients are guaranteed certain privacy rights. For example, staff members must knock before entering a resident’s room, except in emergency situations. Nursing home residents must be provided with a place to safely store personal possessions, as well as access them as needed.
Patients are guaranteed by law a right to access a telephone, to send and receive mail unopened by staff, and the ability to visit with anyone of their choice during regularly scheduled business hours. Nursing home patients are entitled to live in safety and with dignity and this is protected by Florida law.
Alternatives to Nursing Homes
It is difficult for to have to make the decision to place a loved one in a nursing home. Prior to making that decision, many families look for alternatives that may provide care for their loved one, while allowing them to retain more independence and require less time from family members struggling to provide care. Fortunately, there are a number of alternatives that may be considered short of a nursing home.
1. Retirement Communities
Retirement communities are a good option for seniors who may require some assistance, but not full time, around-the-clock care. A retirement community forms a secure community of homes or apartments where many seniors may live close together to provide companionship to each other as they share many of the same needs and interests. Communities often provide services such as quality meals, or communal dining, to relieve the burden of preparing and serving food from the seniors. Communities may also provide home care services and friendly visits from staff.
2. Homemaker Agencies
Some agencies provide homemaking and companionship services for seniors. These caregivers come to the senior’s home and perform many routine household chores. Cooking, cleaning, and reminders to take medications are common services these agencies provide. Additionally, the caregiver may provide transportation to and from doctor’s appointments or even everyday errands. These companions may not, by Florida law, provide personal care such as bathing or dispensing medications for seniors. Caregivers must pass criminal background checks before providing care.
3. Continuing-Care Retirement Communities
These retirement communities, often called Life-Care Communities, provide graduated levels of care depending on the needs of the residents. This may range from an independent living arrangement similar to a retirement community up through around-the-clock care provided in the nursing home setting. The residents may start at one level of care and move up as their needs change without having to leave the community they’ve grown accustomed to. These facilities are licensed and inspected on a regular basis.
4. Home Health Agencies
Caregivers from these agencies may perform many of the same services provided by homemaker agencies, but in addition they are licensed and qualified to provide health and medical services as well. These caregivers may come to the patient’s home or an assisted living facility.
5. Assisted Living Facilities
Assisted living facilities provide housing, meals, and personal services, while allowing greater independence than a traditional nursing home. The facility will usually not provide around-the-clock medical care, though emergency care is available full time. These centers are licensed and inspected regularly by the state.
6. Other Facilities
Adult daycare centers provide care for a portion of the day, allowing primary caregivers to see to personal errands or even work full time. Adult family-care homes are licensed facilities that provide full-time care for up to five seniors.
If your loved one requires assistance for some daily chores, but does not yet require full-time medical care, there are alternatives you can consider to ensure your loved one has the care they need while maintaining as much independence as possible at this time.
Contact Our Florida Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
The decision to entrust the care of a loved one to a nursing home is difficult enough without the added worry that the facility won’t give them the care they need. Sadly, nursing home abuse is a serious and underreported problem throughout the country. If you are dealing with a nursing home abuse situation and are wondering what your options are, we encourage you to get in touch with a Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyer at Kelley/Uustal as soon as possible. Our injury firm is distinguished by a history of successful results in these matters – in fact, we have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation for our clients.
Our team is standing by to schedule a free review of your case to evaluate your potential claim or lawsuit. Because there is a statute of limitations in personal injury matters, it is crucial that you speak to an attorney as soon as possible to begin your case. Put 325+ years of legal experience on your side. Get started by calling (954) 522-6601.