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Although it seems straightforward, it can sometimes be difficult to define wrongful death. The simple wrongful death definition is when someone is killed or dies due to someone else’s misconduct or negligence, it is considered a “wrongful death.” This means that the surviving family of the person who died may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the person responsible. However, there are factors that must be present in order for someone to be found liable in a wrongful death claim. According to the Centers for Disease Control, accidents were the third leading cause of death in Florida in 2016 and firearm deaths accounted for 2,704 of the deaths in the state that year. These wrongful death statistics indicate how common claims may be after someone dies, especially if they are young.

Requirements of Defining a Wrongful Death Claim

There are some elements that must be present in order to seek and define a wrongful death claim, according to wrongful death attorneys in Florida. Of course, the first element is that someone must have died and this death must have been caused by someone else’s negligence. A wrongful death action may also be warranted if the person who caused the death intended to harm someone else, such as in the case of a murder. In addition, family members must be suffering monetary injury due to the death and a personal representative may need to be appointed as part of the estate of the person who has passed away.

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Florida’s state nursing home regulations are in place because residents of these facilities are among the most vulnerable in our population.

Although it might seem that providing high-quality care and treating elderly nursing home patients with dignity would be something facilities would inherently prioritize their safety on moral principles, the unfortunate reality is that far too many don’t. Even with the laws and regulations in place, patients still fall through the cracks when they aren’t consistently enforced or when penalties have no teeth. Criminal statutes against elder abuse were always in place, but with nursing home rights and standards also codified Chapter 400 of Florida Statutes, state authorities are given the power to impose fines on nursing homes that fail to follow the law and put patients at risk – even if no one was actually harmed by the violation. However, serious questions regarding the effectiveness of these state regulations for nursing homes have been raised.

Why Florida State Regulations for Nursing Homes May Not Go Far Enough

Many fines for regulatory breaches by nursing homes are ultimately negotiated down to a much lower sum. Most total just a few thousand dollars, making the penalty ineffective as an incentive to follow the law. 

Furthermore, as our Fort Lauderdale nursing home injury attorneys have seen evolving firsthand, there has been a shift in facility structure over the past decade that not only made it more likely profits would be prioritized over people, but also that those responsible for managing facilities are better insulated from direct penalty. First, there was a shift from the non-profit nursing home facility model to the situation we have now, which is the majority of nursing homes in Florida (and the U.S.) are for-profit. Because these facilities are so highly lucrative, the fines have less impact (especially if the corrective measure is likely to be more costly than the fine). Secondly, an increasing number of nursing homes owners began adopting complex corporate structures that effectively removed the owners and sometimes even top administrators from the risk of liability when nursing home negligence, neglect or abuse occurred resulting in injury or death. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a report in 2006 commenting on this practice, noting the new corporate structure of most nursing homes was “heavily influenced by factors such as litigation…” Given all this, it should come as no surprise that for-profit facilities tend to have more systemic issues with under-staffing and poor patient care. Finally, the rise in popularity of arbitration agreements – compelling those who allege nursing home abuse and neglect to resolve the dispute confidentially with an arbitrator out-of-court – means injury and wrongful death cases that would have been of great public interest are effectively swept under the rug – and often decided more in favor of the nursing homes.

Furthermore, regulatory inspection of a nursing home may occur only every couple years unless there has been a problem. Instead, regulators rely on nursing homes to self-report serious incidents. As you can imagine, the pictures painted in those reports are often appear quite a bit rosier than reality.

Then there is the fact that government oversight is apparently less effective than even previously thought in compelling nursing homes to follow Florida state regulations for nursing homes and correct serious safety violations. Florida Today reported earlier this year that a federal audit of Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration (the one responsible for overseeing nursing homes) consistently failed to follow up on whether nursing homes cited for hundreds of safety and regulatory violations were actually correcting those problems. What’s more, the AHCA rarely if ever uses its toughest sanctions, which include stiff fines, withdrawing federal funding, freezing their ability to take on new patients or ordering closure.

In one case highlighted by the newspaper, one nursing home was cited for multiple violations of state regulations for nursing homes, including failure to assess accurately whether a resident needed oxygen. The next month, the AHCA indicated the problem was corrected and nursing staffers had been retrained – yet there was zero documentation to support this assertion. This is why you should have a Florida nursing home attorney knowledgeable in all aspects of nursing home law that can fight for you and knows how to best navigate the state regulations for nursing homes.

Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.

Additional Resources:

Feds: Florida not checking to ensure nursing homes correct problems discovered by inspectors, May 9, 2018, By Ryan Mills and Melanie Payne, USA Today Network

More Blog Entries:

, Oct. 9, 2018, Fort Lauderdale Nursing Home Injury Attorney Blog

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Identifying Fort Lauderdale nursing home neglect during holidays may not be a pleasant thought when planning on visiting a loved one in a skilled nursing facility. It might seem such unpleasant observations/ topics shouldn’t mar what is supposed to be a festive time.

Still, our Fort Lauderdale nursing home injury attorneys would urge loved ones to consider at least taking a moment to learn about potential red flags, given that:

  • Residents get more visitors over the holidays and for longer, so issues you may not have noticed before may become more glaring;
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Many times after a loved one is injures or dies as a result of nursing home neglect or negligence, our South Florida nursing home injury lawyers are asked how to get out of hospital medical bills. We have heard of instances wherein nursing home administrators have given families misleading or false information about recovering compensation for these bills.

Once, a nursing home administrator told the family of a patient who died of neglect that it would be a “waste of time” to file a lawsuit against them for medical bills because anything they won would go back to Medicaid and/ or Medicare (or whatever health insurer covered the patient prior to death). This is not so, though it’s impossible to say whether this advice was intentionally misleading or the result of a misunderstanding. When you ask “How to get out of hospital medical bills,”  realize that some of those bills have already been covered by the health care insurer. Usually, nursing home patients are covered by Medicaid, a health care plan for people in poverty, as opposed to Medicare, a federal health insurance program for older Americans that does not provide coverage for long-term care, only short stints between a hospital stay and returning home.

What this administrator was likely referring to is something called “subrogation.” This is a type of insurance principle, spelled out specifically with regard to Medicaid in F.S. 409.910, that bars plaintiffs (those seeking compensation) from “double-dipping,” or collecting from two different payers for a single injury. So if Medicaid foots most of the bill for your loved one’s nursing home injuries, you sue the nursing home for negligence that caused those injuries,  Medicaid’s contribution to those medical bills will need to be repaid from whatever amount you’ve been awarded for medical bills as part of the settlement or verdict. And of course, there may be some medical expenses you still paid out-of-pocket.

However, medical bills aren’t the only damages one incurs in a nursing home negligence case, and that’s really why the administrator’s advice in this case falls short. Our South Florida nursing home injury lawyers have been successful in winning compensation for patients and loved ones for things like pain and suffering, loss of life enjoyment, loss of consortium, mental/ emotional anguish, wrongful death and more. Those kind of damages aren’t paid by your health insurer, so subrogation wouldn’t apply. In other words, it is often worth it to patients and/ or loved ones to pursue a claim against the nursing home for negligence resulting in injury.

How to Get Out of Hospital Medical Bills After Nursing Home Injury

As you’re weighing how to get out of hospital medical bills after your loved one’s death or discharge from the hospital, you should know first of all that unlike a car accident negligence case, nursing home negligence resulting in injuries won’t automatically grant you any personal injury protection coverage or an offer to settle by the nursing home. Facilities fight these cases hard – and if nothing else force them into arbitration, if they can – because they know the damage potentially inflicted to their business (most now are for-profit) when their patient care shortcomings are brought to light. So if you suspect nursing home negligence was a factor, you should first talk to an injury lawyer or wrongful death attorney in South Florida.

However, because those bills are going to be owed immediately, it might be tempting to take whatever early settlement offer may come your way. First know this: Florida does not have filial responsibility laws like other states that impose liability on children for the debts of a parent. So whatever hospital bill your mom or grandmother had as a result of the incident, you aren’t personally responsible for it. However, if the patient died, his or her estate could be required to pay those debts. Whatever is paid out of pocket for expenses related to an injury caused by negligence should be sought in the course of a nursing home negligence lawsuit.

You may also try in the meantime to see if those bills can be negotiated down to a more manageable amount in the meantime, though it will depend on whether it matters that the nursing home resident’s credit suffers. Discuss how to get out of hospital medical bills with our experienced South Florida nursing home injury attorneys.

Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.

Additional Resources:

Got Hefty Medical Bills? Try Negotiating to Get Them Reduced, April 4, 2017, By Barbara Kiviat, Consumer Reports

More Blog Entries:

, Nov. 19, 2018, South Florida Nursing Home Injury Lawyer Blog

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If your loved one is residing in an assisted care or skilled nursing facility in South Florida, be mindful of the fact that a holiday nursing home accident in Fort Lauderdale could spell grave difficulties in 2019.

The winter holidays are often one of the best times for nursing home residents, frequently packed with parties, decorations, family visits and outings – maybe even the occasional visits home for special holiday celebrations. However, patients and residents can also be at heightened risk for injuries resulting from a fall, medication errors, improper lifting, carelessness in feeding/ observing dietary restrictions, fire hazards, negligence in transport, fewer physician hours (or substitute physicians filling in) and lower staffing (especially at facilities that can scarcely afford fewer workers on the floor as it is). In some instances, the steady stream of visitors in and out caused nursing home staffers not to carefully vet everyone entering or exiting – leading to patients either wandering out dangerously on their own or allowing potentially predatory visitors in who shouldn’t be.

Although these potential perils exist in nursing homes year-round, the holidays tend to be a particularly hectic time. Most of the time, a holiday nursing home accident could have been prevented with a little extra care and planning – something skilled nursing facility owners and medical staff have a responsibility to provide when such incidents are reasonably foreseeable.

Scheduling Problems, Short Staffing, Can Lead to Holiday Nursing Home Accident in Fort Lauderdale

As noted by the U.S. Department of Justice, federal minimum staffing levels at skilled nursing or nursing facilities is currently 1 registered nurse for 8 consecutive hours daily 7 days weekly and 1 registered nurse and licensed vocational nurse on the remaining shifts. Staffing care minimums in Florida are outlined in F.S. 400.23(3)(a)(1), which indicates vaguely that there must be “sufficient staff to maintain the highest practical physical mental and psychological well-being of each resident.” It further stipulates a minimum of at least one certified nursing assistant for every 20 residents and one LPN/LVN for every 40 residents, with each patient receiving a weekly average of 2.9 hours of direct care from these professionals. There must also be one full-time registered nurse (RN) on the floor at all times for every 120 patients and another added when facilities go above that, each patient receiving at least one hour of weekly care from the RN. It doesn’t take someone well-versed in nursing home neglect and negligence to know this is woefully inadequate to provide every patient with “the highest well-being” of every resident, and many nursing homes are known to cut corners.

As noted this summer in an analysis of Medicare payroll records of nursing home employees by Kaiser Health News, revealing strong evidence that for the last 10 years, the federal government’s five-star rating system improperly inflated nursing home staffing levels and failed to identify times when staffing levels were especially threadbare. One 47-year-old patient told the news outlet that on weekends, “It was almost like a ghost town.”

It also means the staffers who are working are going to burn out much more quickly.

Over the winter holidays, staffing tends to be even sparser, with individuals taking additional vacation time. Patients are endangered – sometimes leading to a holiday nursing home accident in Fort Lauderdale – anytime nurses or other staff skip holidays, weekends or other late-night shifts. To give you an idea of the level of care your loved one is getting around this time, visit on an off-hour and take note of who is there and whether it seems residents are truly being cared for.

If your loved one is injured or dies as a result of a holiday nursing home accident, call our experienced Fort Lauderdale nursing home neglect attorneys promptly.

Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Plantation.

Additional Resources:

Christmas Day Death at Wilmington nursing home raises new questions, Jan. 19, 2018, By Kay Lazar, The Boston Globe

Most nursing homes are not adequately staffed, new federal data says, July 13, 2018, By Jordan Rau, Kaiser Health News

More Blog Entries:

, Nov. 24, 2018, Fort Lauderdale Nursing Home Injury Lawyer Blog

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Nursing home care is often viewed as a sort of moral obligation, a duty to one’s elders. Still, absent federal and state regulations for nursing homes, this care can fall short, leaving the ill and elderly vulnerable to neglect and abuse. In fact, it was widespread nursing home abuse and neglect in the 1980s that led to the federal  Nursing Home Reform Act in 1987. 

Nursing homes that receive funding from Medicare or Medicaid (which is virtually all of them) are required at minimum to follow federal nursing home standards. However, state regulations for nursing homes, such as those adopted by Florida, must also be followed if facilities want to continue to receive this funding.

Florida State Regulations for Nursing Homes

Florida hasn’t changed its administrative rules for nursing homes since before 2007, though as our Miami nursing home abuse attorneys can explain, statutory changes have been made to Chapter 408. For example, 2012 legislative changes significantly modified the background screenings required for numerous service providers, including health care providers at nursing homes licensed by the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration. Those providing services to the elderly and disabled individuals need to undergo a Level 2 screening, have fingerprints retained by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, have their photograph taking at the time they are fingerprinted and sign a privacy policy. The ACHA is responsible for maintaining these records, and the new requirements became effective for all agencies subject to state and federal funding no later than Sept. 30, 2013.

Federal Regulations for Nursing Homes

The federal regulations that bind all Florida nursing homes (in addition to the state regulations for nursing homes) include mandates to ensure:

  • Sufficient nursing staff.
  • Comprehensive and accurate assessment of each resident’s functional capacity.
  • Comprehensive care plans dedicated to each resident.
  • Prevention of deterioration of a resident’s ability to bathe, dress, groom, move, use the restroom, eat and communicate.
  • Residents have proper treatment and assistive devices for vision and hearing.
  • Prevention of pressure sores and prompt treatment if one develops.
  • Appropriate treatment and services if a resident is incontinent.
  • Each resident has proper fluid and hydration.
  • Acceptable parameters of each resident’s nutrition status.
  • Residents have a right to choose their health care, schedules and activities.
  • Pharmaceutical services meet each patients needs and are free of significant medication errors.
  • Dignity, respect and quality of life is maintained.

Miami nursing home abuse lawyers know that while some of these directives are very clear and straightforward, some are open to a bit of interpretation. However, federal and state regulations for nursing homes in Florida are broadly interpreted in favor of the resident.

Although some incidents may fall under the umbrella of medical malpractice, many nursing home abuse and neglect claims are simple negligence, which is defined as breach of a duty of care resulting in actual harm to another person. Violation of any of these statutes can constitute as negligence per se, which means breach of law can be used as evidence of negligence or used to establish the presumption of negligence. Plaintiffs still must prove the other elements, but negligence per se can make it easier to prevail.

Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.

Additional Resources:

Minimum Standards for Nursing Homes, Complete List of Minimum Standards of Care for Florida Nursing Home Residents

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, Nov. 14, 2018, Miami Nursing Home Lawyer Blog

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Recently the family of a Leesburg man who died of sepsis, allegedly developed after negligence on the part of the assisted living home staff, filed a Florida nursing home wrongful death lawsuit against the facility. Decedent’s estate alleges facility owners failed to properly fund it, in turn improperly staffing the site and leaving residents vulnerable to inadequate supervision and poor care, in this case resulting in a fatal sepsis infection. 

Sepsis is a serious and often fatal blood infection. There are many infections that can lead to sepsis, especially in someone who is elderly. Within Florida nursing home wrongful death lawsuits, it’s often indicated to be a result of:

  • Catheter use;
  • Bed sores/ open wounds;
  • IV use;
  • Poor hygiene.

Although sepsis is often treatable, it must be identified and addressed swiftly. Failure to do so often results in wrongful death.

A recent report from Kaiser Health News reveals that while no one tracks sepsis cases close enough to know how often they spiral into severe infections that become fatal, the human and financial toll is believed to be enormous. A federal analysis conducted by Definitive Healthcare (a private health care information company) ascertained that between 2014 and 2016, an estimated 25,000 nursing home patients a year suffer from sepsis, are transferred to hospitals and ultimately die. This amounts to a cost of $2 billion a year.

Just in the state of Illinois, of those residents diagnosed with sepsis and transferred to hospitals, 1 in 5 did not live.

Florida Nursing Home Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed After Patient Dies of Sepsis

The complaint, according to The Daily Commercial, alleges decedent should never have been accepted into the facility anyway because his medical condition was more serious than what could have reasonably been cared for at an assisted living facility. Plaintiff claims he should have been cared for at a nursing home with greater medical capabilities from the start, and defendant facility was not properly equipped.

As a result, according to his Florida nursing home wrongful death lawsuit, he suffered falls, unexplained injuries, wounds, infections and, ultimately, the sepsis that killed him. His estate is represented by his daughter.

One of the foremost sepsis experts in Kansas told KHS that, “People don’t go to a nursing home so they can get sepsis and die. That is what is happening a lot.”

Why Sepsis is So Often Fatal for Nursing Home Patients

Fort Lauderdale nursing home wrongful death attorneys recognize that many bedridden patients, particularly those with urinary tract infections, pneumonia, feeding tubes and pressure sores, are especially prone to sepsis. The problem is that small infections can quickly become big ones in a nursing home setting.

And sickness and death as a result of sepsis is not merely a normal part of aging or living in a nursing home. In fact, it is very often an indication that you may have grounds for a Florida nursing home wrongful death lawsuit because they can stem from so-called “never” events, such as late-stage pressure sores, which are preventable so long as patients are turned every two hours and other precautions are taken.

Sepsis can also be prevented when nursing home facilities abide the stringent federal nursing home infection control standards established to minimize this harm. Despite this, the kinds of standard-of-care failures that cause sepsis still persist, widespread in nursing homes across Florida and the U.S., according to information from the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Many of these Florida nursing home wrongful death lawsuits allege sepsis infections were the direct result of the nursing home’s failure to address known risks resulting in preventable harm.

Just in Illinois (wherein the KHN analysis was focused), inspection records from CMS showed nearly 95 percent of nursing homes had been cited in the last three years for at least one condition that upped the risk of sepsis infection.

Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.

Additional Resources:

Avoidable Sepsis Infections Send Thousands Of Seniors To Gruesome Deaths, Sept. 5, 2018, By Fred Schulte and Elizabeth Lucas and Joe Mahr, Chicago Tribune and Kaiser Health News

More Blog Entries:

, Sept. 25, 2018, Florida Nursing Home Wrongful Death Lawsuit Blog

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Florida nursing home arbitration agreements have become increasingly the norm for most for-profit centers that care for the aging, making them a central point of contention in many nursing home injury and wrongful death lawsuits. The law is not exactly settled, but a few Florida Supreme Court decisions in recent years have provided guidance upon which many Palm Beach injury lawyers have relied in determining whether it’s worth fighting to invalidate an arbitration agreement or instead work within that system. 

Arbitration agreements fall under contract law, which as long as both parties are able, willing and not coerced or defrauded, have almost always been ruled valid. However in recent years, Palm Beach injury attorneys have noted a number of reasons Florida nursing home arbitration agreements are problematic. Among those:

  • Residents must choose between their legal rights and proper care.
  • Residents may not always be fully aware of what they are signing or the fact that the arbitration process usually favors nursing homes.
  • Arbitration allows nursing homes to keep shameful acts and incidents out of the public eye.
  • Discovering the outcome of an arbitration is tough if not impossible, as they are confidential and no database stores them.

In general, our Palm Beach nursing home injury and wrongful death lawyers don’t recommend signing an arbitration agreement if it can be avoided. If a client has one in place in a nursing home abuse case, we’ll generally explore our options to determine if there is a way to invalidate that agreement. 

Florida Nursing Home Arbitration Agreements and State Courts

Several recent cases at the Florida courts have dealt with the issue of nursing home arbitration.

The first of those was Mendez v. Hampton Court Nursing Center, LLC by the Florida Supreme Court in 2016. Here, a man signed an arbitration agreement when he admitted his father to the nursing home, but later when his father died, the man sued the nursing home for negligence on behalf of his father’s estate. Defendant nursing home argued the estate was bound by the arbitration agreement as a third-party beneficiary to the agreement between the son and the nursing home. Critical to this was the doctrine of third-party beneficiaries relevant here is that two parties can’t bind a third – without agreement by the third – just by conferring a benefit to him or her. However, the estate didn’t sue for breach of contract as a third-party beneficiary. Rather, it sued for negligence. Under those circumstances, the contract couldn’t bind the estate – and that case didn’t need to be arbitrated according to the Florida nursing home arbitration agreement.

Another of those was the 2017 case of Moen v. Bradenton Council on Aging, before Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal, which expanded on the issue by considering whether a daughter who had signed her mother’s admission papers as her mom’s health care proxy (based on her mother’s incompetence) could bind her mother to an arbitration agreement in those admissions documents. The court ruled the daughter couldn’t bind her mother to an arbitration agreement because firstly, the health care proxy allowed her daughter to make health care decisions; the decision to arbitrate is not a health care decision. Further, the daughter signed the document in her own capacity, not as a proxy. Finally, applying Mendez, the estate didn’t invoke third-party beneficiary status under the contract, so it wasn’t compelled to arbitrate.

Most recently, there was the case of Gaeta v. Seaside Manor before Florida’s 5th DCA earlier this year. Plaintiff was a widow whose husband died in the nursing home. Prior to his admission, plaintiff signed an arbitration agreement. After her husband’s death, plaintiff filed a claim in court seeking to sever a number of claims from the agreement on the basis that they were against public policy. Although the nursing home wouldn’t respond to the specifics of the public policy allegations, it did say the arbitrator should be the one to decide their validity. The 5th DCA disagreed.

The bottom line is the mere fact of a Florida nursing home arbitration agreement doesn’t mean you shouldn’t discuss the case with a West Palm Beach nursing home abuse lawyer. There is a good chance it could be well worth fighting.

Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.

Additional Resources:

Mendez v. Hampton Court Nursing Center, LLC , Sept. 22, 2018, Florida Supreme Court

More Blog Entries:

, Nov. 7, 2018, Florida Nursing Home Arbitration Attorney Blog

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The potential for an accident resulting in serious injury is possible anytime a nursing home patient is lifted, repositioned or transferred, whether manually by staffers or via a mechanical lift. Fort Lauderdale nursing home injury lawyers have seen case after case where an immobile nursing home patient has suffered serious and sometimes fatal outcomes as a result of nursing homes and staffers that were negligent in their moving or patients or in their poor planning in doing so. 

Lifting and transferring mishaps occur every day in Florida – even though federal regulators have clear guidelines and numerous healthcare providers know they need to follow them. One of the biggest problems is manual handling of patients, which most health care personnel recognize as problematic. Nonetheless, these problems are ongoing, sometimes because facilities don’t invest in adequate pieces of proper equipment to alleviate the need for nursing home aides and nurses to move patients themselves. Lack of training too is also too often a problem.

Fort Lauerdale nursing home injury lawyer complaints have focused on injuries during transfers and lifts most especially at times involving:

  • Transfers to and from bed to chair, chair to toilet, chair to chair or car to chair;
  • Transfer to and from chair to stretcher;
  • Bed repositioning (side to side/ up or down);
  • Chair repositioning;
  • Patient transfer from sitting to standing or standing to sitting;
  • Weighing;
  • Bathtub, shower, toilet activities.

If a nursing home patient slips, is dropped or falls during this kind of movement, it can be the result of negligence, which can be actionable if it results in serious injury such as:

  • Fractures, especially to the hip, femur, wrist, arm and face
  • Brain bleeds, also called subdural hematomas
  • Lacerations
  • Wrongful death

This often happens when staffers either lift the patient on their own knowing they aren’t strong enough or after failing to ensure they are properly positioned. Despite knowing how dangerous these kinds of transfers and lifts are, yet they occur almost every day in this state.

Lift/ Transfer Cited in Florida Nursing Home Injury Lawsuit

A woman in Palm Harbor (outside of Tarpon Springs, near Tampa) is alleging nursing home negligence resulted in injuries to her father. Specifically, according to Florida Record, the patient’s leg snapped and fractured when an improperly-operated lift wrapped sheets around the patient’s legs, causing the sheets to become caught and tangled and ultimately causing the leg to break.

Plaintiff alleges it was the nursing home operators’ failure to use reasonable care that resulted in her father’s injuries. Specifically, not only where staffers not properly trained in use of the lift and then inadequately supervised in their duties, they also failed to react to his complaints and injuries in a timely manner, further exacerbating his nursing home injuries.

Because the nursing home has refused to settle, plaintiff is seeking a trial by jury.

Fort Lauderdale Nursing Home Injury Lawyer Warns Lifts are Dangerous

It’s not the first time a mechanical lift has been central to a serious injury at a nursing home. Two years ago in Massachusetts, a nursing home injury proved fatal when a 21-year-old certified nursing assistant attempted on her own to use a mechanical lift to move an 83-year-old woman – despite manufacturer instructions clearly indicated two people were necessary to safely complete such a job. The woman was improperly placed in the lift, according to a report filed with state regulators. The result was the woman slipped out, fell to the ground and broke both her legs. She died two days later.

An investigation would later reveal the nursing home fall rate for that particular facility was twice as high was the state average.

Any Fort Lauderdale nursing home injury lawyer watching this problem for some time knows even Congress tried to step in at one point with H.B. 4266 in 2015, which would have barred manual lifting, but the bill died in committee early the following year.

If your loved one is hurt in a nursing home lift injury, our dedicated legal team can help.

Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.

Additional Resources:

Daughter blames nursing home operators for father’s injuries, Nov. 8, 2018, By Philip Gonzalez, Florida Record

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, Nov. 7, 2018, Fort Lauderdale Nursing Home Injury Lawyer Blog

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The decision place a loved one in an assisted living or nursing home facility is a difficult one with many factors to weigh. When choosing a nursing home in Fort Lauderdale, our South Florida injury attorneys advise not overlooking the facility’s smoking policy and enforcement.

Recently, The Sun Sentinel reported two nursing home resident injuries at a facility in Plantation following a fire that broke out after a resident was allegedly smoking in his bed. The man, in his 70s, was badly burned and had to be flown to a trauma center burn unit in Miami. His roommate suffered minor burns and smoke inhalation, as did a staff nurse, both treated at a closer Broward County hospital. Some 55 other patients in that wing of the facility had to be evacuated, though were allowed to return a short time later.

This may seem like a “freak accident,” but the reality is nursing home injuries stemming from failure to supervise smoking patients is an ongoing problem that has cropped up repeatedly in Florida and other states. It’s a factor you should especially consider when choosing a nursing home in Fort Lauderdale if your loved one is a smoker or uses electronic cigarettes or vaping devices.

Smoking Standards to Understand When Choosing a Nursing Home in Fort Lauderdale

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) revisited smoking rules for nursing homes back in 2011, after the death of a patient in a smoking-related incident. The resident had gone outside of the building to smoke, but was left without supervision. She accidentally ignited her clothing. By the time staffers realized there was a problem, they were too late to save her, and she died as a result of her injuries. Further investigation revealed she was not given a smoking apron and her wheelchair was positioned in such a way it was blocking the closest fire extinguisher. (That case occurred in Virginia, and the family later won a wrongful death case against the facility, which was ordered to pay $1.45 million.)

The memo issued by CMS concluded guidelines for 42 CFR, Part 483.25(h), F323, involving adequate supervision for smoking residents, needed to be reemphasized. Nursing homes must ensure they are regularly assessing the abilities (and disabilities) of smoking residents to ascertain the need for supervision, and also limiting access to devices like lighters and matches at all times. Staffers must also make certain there are no oxygen tanks nearby. They must also ensure ashtrays made of non-combustible materials are provided and self-containing metal covers for these disposal features should be provided.

Another nursing home resident death of a 55-year-old man with a traumatic brain injury in California was attributed to unsupervised smoking was reported earlier this year

As Fort Lauderdale nursing home injury lawyers, we respect each resident’s right to autonomy in making the decision of whether to smoke or use tobacco or nicotine products. However, facilities need to err on the side caution in determining whether supervision is need to smoke. Although some nursing homes have taken a harder line on this by banning all smoking on site, 42 CFR, Part §483.15(b)(3), stipulates such action cannot be applied retroactively to existing residents. Residents admitted after such policy change have the right to be informed of the new policy.

(CMS has indicated it does not consider e-cigarettes to be “smoking devices,” as defined in these regulations because it does not pose the same risk of ignition.)

Nursing homes do have a challenge in weighing resident safety with resident rights in this regard, but given the serious nature of smoking-related accidents at nursing home, policies must be made with careful consideration and vigilant enforcement.

Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.

Additional Resources:

Man ‘badly burned’ in nursing home fire that hospitalized three, Nov. 2, 2018, By Doug Philips, The Sun Sentinel

More Blog Entries:

, Oct. 29, 2018, Fort Lauderdale Nursing Home Injury Lawyer Blog

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