It should come as no surprise to you that Florida boasts the highest population of senior citizens in the United States. In fact, of all age groups in Florida, seniors age 65 and over make up the highest percentage of Florida’s population. Although seniors should enjoy the weather and carefree living Florida has to offer, the rising population of seniors choosing to spend their remaining days in Florida gives rise to an extensive, and often unmet, need for quality, affordable nursing home care. For those who are caring for a senior that will soon need full time facility care, simply looking for a place for a parent to complete rehabilitation, or have a parent currently in a nursing home, it is important to diligently look for signs of neglect throughout their stay, especially at new and upcoming nursing home facilities without established quality care reviews.
Florida Nursing Home Statistics
Especially for those seniors with only Medicare, it may be difficult to find everything you want in a nursing home facility. You may have to settle for “less than the best” if you wish to avoid substantial medical bills, as the average annual cost for a private room in a Florida nursing facility is $97,000.00, much of which may come out of your pocket. That being said, nursing home abuse/negligent is one the leading causes of wrongful death and medical malpractice cases in the United States, as the increasing need for skilled nursing help has forced many facilities to lower their education and training standards to meet this need. Accordingly, nursing home malpractice cases are not uncommon in Florida and they can be especially complex because those caring for dependent seniors, especially those with dementia, are held to a higher standard of care.
For example, in a recent case, a senior suffering from dementia asked for a cup of tea. She was given a boiling cup of tea to drink but immediately spilled it on herself, causing third–degree burns. While it might not be negligent to give a typical hospital patient a cup of tea upon request, even simple negligence when caring for seniors can give rise to serious, if not fatal, personal injury and medical malpractice claims.
Nursing Home Malpractice in Florida
Under Florida law, you can make a claim for violating a nursing home resident’s rights and for personal injuries and/or death stemming from such a violation of rights. You can also make a claim for medical malpractice if the nursing home did not adhere to the acceptable standards of care for patients. However, before filing a claim, you must take the following steps:
- Notify the facility by certified mail of an alleged violation;
- Identify the specific rights that you allege have been violated;
- Identify the negligence that is alleged to have caused the injuries and/or wrongful death;
- Describe the injuries sustained; and
Include a certification from an attorney that there exists a belief that the claim is being made in good faith. Notice must be mailed 75 days before a claim is filed so that an insurance investigation can be conducted into the incident and liability can potentially be determined. This notification and subsequent investigation are intended to assist in the settlement process in order to reduce litigation in Florida courts.
Common Forms of Nursing Home Malpractice
As with the cup of tea, nursing home malpractice claims can arise in a variety of unexpected ways. However, some of the most common types of nursing home injuries in Florida include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Physical abuse of elderly dementia patients;
- Emotional and verbal abuse of patients, and
When visiting a loved one, you should always check for unexplained cuts, burns, welts, sores, bruises, and discolorations that were not previously present. You should especially look for such wounds on a loved one’s arms because that indicates a defensive wound. Emotional abuse, however, can be just as damaging as physical abuse. This includes humiliation, intimation, and ridicule of a patient. You should also be aware of a patient’s mood when you visit, as well as sudden changes in their behavior, sleeping patterns, eating and sleeping habits.
Neglect vs. Negligence
Although neglect claims can be brought as negligence claims because a nursing home is still falling below the standard of care in a neglect case, there are slight differences when making a claim for neglect than one for personal injuries. Neglect claims arise in circumstances where the resident is often left alone, ignored, or not provided with sufficient nutrition and hydration. Such claims can often arise if the resident is denied family or legal visits as well as assistance with activities of daily living such as showering, dressing, or using the restroom. Although negligence does not always give rise to personal injuries, this is still actionable as a violation of the patient’s rights in Florida.
Contact a Florida Nursing Home Malpractice Attorney Today to Protect your Senior
There is an overwhelming feeling of guilt to learn that your loved one has been abused, injured or neglected in a nursing home facility you specifically chose to help improve their quality of life. But you are not alone. Even at a top rated facility, one poorly trained or negligently hired employee can cause injuries to your loved one. Don’t let it stop there. Assert your rights and the rights of your loved one against the facility so that you can get the compensation you deserve and future patients may be protected from abuse and neglect. Especially if you have a loved one who is suffering from dementia, it is important that you are vigilant in looking for signs of abuse and asserting their patient’s rights under Florida law.
The Dolman Law Group has the experience you need to file your nursing home malpractice and negligence notices and claims. They understand the vast patient rights at issue in nursing home cases, and they can also help you look for signs of abuse and negligence in a loved one. They are your go-to nursing home and homecare malpractice and neglect lawyers in the greater Tampa Bay area. Contact them today at (727) 451-6900 for a free, no-risk consultation about your loved one.