According to the Florida Department of Health, there are almost 200 nursing homes throughout the state that over 1000 residents call home.
On the Federal level, nearly one-quarter of all nursing homes in the United States are cited every year for causing a resident’s injury or death. Nursing home abuse and neglect cases have reached a staggering number.
Nursing Home Abuse in Orlando
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse conducted a survey recently in which they discovered that a shocking 44% of nursing home residents reported that they’d been abused while 95% of residents said they’d been neglected or saw other nursing home residents be neglected.
In another study by the National Center on Elder Abuse, over half of all nursing home staff members actually admitted that they had mistreated a resident in the prior year. Their actions of mistreatment included: physical violence, mental abuse, and neglect.
In many cases, your loved one may not speak up about being abused and/or neglected because they are too ill, embarrassed, scared, or don’t want to get anyone in trouble. Sadly, many Florida suffer in silence as they endure abuse and/or neglect at the hands of nursing home staff.
The problem of nursing home abuse and/or neglect is only going to get worse as the population ages, and the number of people in Florida nursing homes increases as well. It’s estimated that the number of nursing home residents will increase from 1.6 million today to 6.6 million 40 years from now.
Nursing Home Neglect in Orlando
Many Florida nursing homes are understaffed, have high turnover rates. The staff at the nursing home may also be underpaid and not properly trained to take care of the nursing home residents.
Because of the above issues, the Orlando nursing home staff may be overwhelmed and fail to provide your loved one and other residents with proper hydration and nutrition. This can be life-threatening to your loved one and many other residents who may not be able to get food or water for themselves or are not even aware of their hunger and thirst.
Hygiene neglect can be a serious problem in many Orlando nursing homes. Your loved one may not be bathed and sitting in dirty clothes for hours or even days. It’s possible that their bedding may not be changed or cleaned and the cleanliness of the nursing home itself may fall into neglect.
Additionally, your loved one’s medical needs may not be being met properly. Bedsores and pressure ulcers may go untreated, and your loved one may not be receiving their necessary medication or treatments.
Nursing Home Legal Rights in Orlando
With these shocking statistics, you may be wondering what rights you or your loved one has while residing in a nursing home. The truth is you have extensive legal protections that are available to you under state and Federal law.
In Orlando and throughout Florida you and/or your loved one is protected by the Adult Protection law that supports residents of nursing homes. At the Federal level, you are protected by the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act.
The Nursing Home Reform Act gives all nursing home residents important legal rights that include:
- Freedom from all types of abuse and exploitation
- Freedom from discrimination in any form
- All the information available regarding your living arrangements
- The ability to put a voice to your complaints without fear of retribution
- Reasonable participation in any medical treatments
- Right to privacy
- The right to make your own lifestyle decisions
- Flexible visitation times with your family and friends
- The right to dignity and respect
When an Orlando nursing home fails to protect your rights under the law, abuse and neglect may follow.
Types of Nursing Home Abuse in Orlando
While there are many types of abuse that can take place in an Orlando nursing home, the most common are:
- Physical Abuse: Physical abuse is defined as any use of force against you as a vulnerable person that was not the result of an unintentional accident. In Florida’s Omnibus Adult Protection Act, physical abuse is defined as: “slapping, hitting, kicking, biting, choking, pinching, burning.” Additionally, physical abuse can also take the form of drugs being used in an inappropriate manner to “chemically restrain” a patient.
- Emotional Abuse: In a nursing home, emotional abuse means leaving the patient in a state of emotional distress, anxiety, and fear. In addition, the patient might be ignored and left in isolation. The Florida Adult Protection Act defines emotional abuse as: “deliberately subjecting a vulnerable adult to threats or harassment or other forms of intimidating behavior causing fear, humiliation, degradation, agitation, confusion, or other forms of emotional distress.”
- Sexual Abuse: In a nursing home, sexual abuse could be any non-consensual sexual contact between the nursing home staff and a patient. Also, sexual abuse doesn’t have to be any form of touching. It could be forcing the patient to watch pornography or other people’s sexual acts or forcing the patient to undress for no reason. Sexual abuse in a nursing home is especially troubling because normally the nursing home staff has some type of power and/or authority over the patient.
- Financial Exploitation: Many people who live in nursing homes are lonely and looking for a friend. Patients like this are extremely vulnerable to a member of the nursing home staff who views the patient as a source of easily gained money. While some Orlando nursing home residents are victims of theft, they may also fall victim to a scam or tricks that result in them giving away their life savings. Additionally, many Orlando nursing home residents fall victim to identity theft and health-care fraud, which is the nursing home charging them for services they didn’t receive, even if the patient needs those services.
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse in Orlando
One of the easiest ways to help protect your loved one who is in a nursing home is to visit them frequently. While you are visiting, be on the lookout for any of the signs of abuse and/or neglect listed below:
- Sores, cuts, and/or wounds that haven’t been treated.
- Dirty clothes or bedding
- Poor hygiene that could include the smell of urine and/or feces
- Weight loss that can’t be explained
- Fearfulness or sudden withdrawal from activities they would normally participate in.
- Any evidence of unexplained sexually transmitted diseases or injuries to their mouth, genitals, anus, or breasts.
- Anxiety or stress when being changed and/or bathed, or signs of fear of a specific person
- Abrasions or bruises
- Stained, torn, and/or bloody clothes or bedding
- Loss of hair
- Bedsores that aren’t being treated
- Loss of bowel and/or bladder control
- Financial transactions that aren’t normal
- Strange behaviors
- The nursing home staff doesn’t leave you alone with your loved one
- Nursing home staff won’t let you visit your loved one.
What Can I Do if I Suspect Nursing Home Abuse?
Even if you aren’t sure your loved one is being abused or neglected, you need to take immediate action. Nursing home abuse is extremely difficult to catch, but you have a duty to your loved one to follow-up on anything that is reasonably suspicious. An experienced Orlando nursing home lawyer can assist you in making sure your loved one is being protected.
If you believe your loved one is being abused and/or neglected in a Florida nursing home, and the abuse or neglect is ongoing, you can report it to the Florida Department of Social Services. This agency has the tools that are necessary to assist you in putting a stop to any issues.
You can never be too careful when it comes to cases of Orlando nursing home abuse and/or neglect. Once the immediate threat to your loved one has been taken care of, you should immediately contact an Orlando nursing home abuse attorney to help you evaluate what legal action may be available to you and your loved one.
Orlando Nursing Home Abuse Compensation
In Orlando and throughout Florida, nursing home residents that have been abused are entitled to compensation for all of their losses. You and your loved one could be entitled to compensation for the following:
- Relocation costs
- Medical costs that are related to the abuse
- Pain and suffering
- Compensation for mental anguish and emotional distress
- Wrongful death.
In some cases, punitive damages may also be available to you and your loved one. Punitive damages are not designed to make up for your loved one’s losses, but rather to punish the defendant for their actions. In Florida, punitive damages are only awarded in cases that involve egregious behavior.
What an Orlando Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Can Do to Help
Nursing home abuse cases are extremely complex. It’s often hard to pinpoint the abuse and neglect, which could make it difficult to hold the nursing home liable. However, the Orlando law office of Just Call Moe can assist you. We will use our experience and knowledge to help protect the legal rights, health, safety, and financial interests of you and your loved one.
To be more specific, we will:
- Assist in arranging an immediate intervention to get your loved one out of the dangerous situation.
- Accumulate all evidence related to your loved one’s nursing home abuse case
- Issue any subpoenas necessary and use any other legal tools at our disposal to get all the information from the nursing home
- Negotiate a full and fair settlement offer on you and your loved one’s behalf
- Vigorously pursue any necessary litigation.
While every case of nursing home abuse in Orlando is different, injury attorney Moe Dewitt will work hard to protect your loved one and make sure they receive all the compensation they deserve.
We can help you and your loved one through the difficult times that come with discovering your loved one is being abused and/or neglected in an Orlando nursing home. You will receive respect, compassion, and care from all members of our staff.