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Abuse and Neglect in Assisted Living Facilities

Many families think they are doing the right thing by encouraging an elderly loved one to move into an assisted living facility. Assisted living facilities allow residents to maintain some independence while still providing professional care and supervision. Good assisted living facilities can in fact provide that type of balance for seniors and disabled adults, but unfortunately many facilities fail to provide proper care to their residents. Recently, Frontline and ProPublica co-published a story on abuse and neglect in assisted living facilities and how a lack of state and federal regulation and oversight has allowed the problem to continue.
Assisted living abuse has been an issue in Florida since a series of articles by the Miami Herald in 2011. The series of articles detailed several cases of abuse and neglect, along with the Agency for Health Care Administration’s (“AHCA”) lack of action. Some facilities failed to provide residents with their medication, others used improper restraints, and some allowed residents with dementia to wander off. According to the articles, some facilities were allowed to rack up more than 100 violations and remain open. Regulators would often reduce penalties. The series of articles presented stories of several tragic deaths arising from several issues, including withholding medication, failing to provide proper medical care, using improper restraints, allowing access to medications, and allowing a resident to become severely scalded in the bath. Multiple assisted living facility residents died after wandering away from the facility and falling into a nearby body of water.

Unfortunately, as the Frontline/ProPublica piece shows, the poor conditions at many assisted living facilities have not been corrected in the past few years. That story discusses cases across the country, but this issue remains a serious concern in Florida. According to U.S. Census data, Florida has an estimated 3,508,827 residents over the age of 65.

Florida, therefore, has a particular interest in protecting its elderly population. There have been unsuccessful efforts at legislative reform in the state over the past few years, including a bill that failed to pass earlier this year. A state Senate committee just passed another proposed bill in October 2013, but it remains to be seen if that bill will ever become law. Focus is also now on unlicensed clinics.

Assisted living facility residents’ best defense against abuse and neglect may be involved family and friends. Frequent unannounced visits will allow you to observe the facility and potential signs of abuse. Conversations with caregivers and residents may provide information about whether anything occurring in the facility is cause for concern. If you believe your loved one or another resident is the victim of neglect or abuse, you should file a complaint with the appropriate state agency.

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities have a duty to provide appropriate care to the residents of their facilities. This duty may include giving necessary medication, providing necessary medical care or contacting emergency services, supervising residents, or taking steps to prevent known risks from resulting in injury. Failure to meet this duty can result in liability for injuries.

If you believe your loved one has been the victim of assisted living abuse or neglect, you need an experienced Florida personal injury attorney to assist with your claim. The personal injury attorneys at Schuler, Halvorson, Weisser & Zoeller, P.A. know how to handle assisted living and nursing home abuse cases. We have successfully resolved abuse cases for our clients. Please call (800) 689-8180 to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.

Related Blog Posts:

Patient Wanders Away From Nursing Home in Boca Raton, Florida and Drowns

Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect – A Growing Menace

Nursing Home’s Failure to Provide Adequate Protection to Elderly Patient in Boca Raton, Florida Results in Tragic Death