Do you have an elderly loved one living in a Florida nursing home or adult assisted living facility? Then keep reading, because you need to know what your loved one’s rights are – and what to do if those rights are violated by the nursing home.

Federal and state laws regulate nursing homes and Florida’s other residential care facilities. National standards for nursing homes are spelled out by the Federal Medicare Health Insurance Program for the Aged.

The overwhelming majority of nursing homes in Florida provide excellent, professional resident care. Some, however, do not.

In fact. some Florida nursing home residents must deal with abuse, neglect, or exploitation every day.

Neglect of a nursing home patient may lead rapidly to malnutrition, dehydration, or a declining medical condition. Nursing home abuse has caused several deaths over the years in Florida.

WHAT IS NURSING HOME ABUSE?

Nursing home abuse may include but is not limited to:

1. a failure to supervise residents that leads to falls and injuries

2. neglect that leads to dehydration or malnutrition

3. sexual abuse including unwanted touching, peeping, explicit language, and sexual battery

4. physical abuse including any deliberate force that causes pain, injury, humiliation, fear, or impairment

5. verbal or non-verbal emotional abuse including insults, threats, harassment, or ignoring or isolating a resident

6. financial exploitation: theft, forgery, and any unauthorized use of a patient’s assets, funds, or property

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU DISCOVER NURSING HOME ABUSE?

When a nursing home resident is abused, exploited, or neglected, or when someone takes advantage of a nursing home resident, it’s against the law.

If you believe that someone you love is being mistreated or abused in a Florida nursing home, speak at once with an experienced Tampa nursing home abuse attorney.

Under federal rules, every residential nursing facility must write and enforce policies and practice procedures that prohibit the abuse, neglect, or mistreatment of nursing home residents.

WHAT ARE THE RIGHTS OF FLORIDA NURSING HOME RESIDENTS?

What follows is a list of the rights of nursing home residents in the state of Florida:

1. Residents of Florida nursing homes have the right to visits from their relatives, doctors, service providers, resident advocates, and governmental representatives.

2. Residents of Florida nursing homes have the right to seek and obtain Medicaid and Medicare and cannot be compelled to leave a nursing home facility for receiving these benefits.

3. Nursing homes in Florida must treat all residents equally and without regard to how payments are made to the facility.

4. Residents of Florida nursing homes have the right to select their own doctors.

5. Florida nursing home residents have the right to be fully informed regarding their medical care, the right to participate in planning their care and treatment, and the right to refuse treatment.

6. Florida nursing home residents have the right to be free of physical and mental abuse.

7. Florida nursing home residents may not be isolated from others against their will.

8. They may not be restrained if restraint is not required to treat a medical condition.

9. They are not required to deposit personal funds with the facility. If they request management of their personal funds by the nursing home, the home must manage those funds in compliance with state and federal guidelines.

10. Residents have an absolute right to privacy that includes all communications and visits, medical records, and meetings with family and resident groups.

11. Residents have the right to review their own medical records and the state’s most recent inspection report of the facility.

12. Residents have a right to thirty days’ notice before a discharge or transfer. They also have the right to appeal. A resident may be removed from a nursing home only if:

1) removal is necessary for the patient’s health or well-being
2) if the resident no longer needs the facility’s services
3) if the removal is necessary for the health or safety of others
4) if the resident has failed to pay necessary fees after reasonable notice
5) if the facility closes

13. Florida nursing home residents must be informed regarding their rights upon admission to a nursing facility, and they must receive a list of their rights in writing if they request it.

WHY IS NURSING HOME ABUSE SO HARD TO STOP?

Nursing home residents are not always able to communicate their experiences.

They may be intimidated, shamed, or embarrassed about neglect or abuse, so families with loved ones in nursing homes need to be extra-vigilant.

Residents’ families must communicate clearly with the facility’s staff, make unexpected visits, and know the indications of neglect and abuse.

Pressure ulcers – bed sores – are usually a warning sign that a nursing home provides substandard care. Pressure ulcers most typically arise on the sacrum, tailbone, ankles, elbows, and heels.

Other signs of neglect or abuse include bruises, cuts, unexplained injuries, irrational mood swings, and self-absorption or withdrawal.

IS THERE A ROOT CAUSE OF NURSING HOME ABUSE?

Some nursing homes employees are overworked and underpaid. Others may not have proper training. Nursing home operators have a right to make a profit, but not when it leads to abuse.

Nursing home neglect and abuse, over time, may slowly erode a patient’s health. When a nursing facility or a staffer commits abuse, the victim is legally entitled to compensation.

When a family can show that a nursing home or its staff has abused or neglected a family member, the facility or staff may be held liable for damages in a civil lawsuit.

Damages in a nursing home abuse case may include compensation for additional medical expenses as well as compensation for the patient’s personal pain and suffering.

In some cases, Florida courts also award punitive damages to deter nursing homes and their staffs from future acts of negligence.

HOW CAN A NURSING HOME ABUSE LAWYER HELP?

If your loved one is being abused, neglected, mistreated, or exploited in a nursing home in Florida, arrange at once to speak with an experienced Tampa nursing home abuse attorney who will make the responsible parties pay.

Most attorneys who handle nursing home abuse offer a free initial legal consultation, so it costs family members nothing to learn more about their rights and options.

The people of Florida have no tolerance for nursing home abuse. If your loved one is being abused, you have the right – and the responsibility – to take legal action, and you can be assured that the law will be on your side.