Nursing home abuse and neglect are significant problems throughout Florida elderly care facilities. Although nursing home abuse remains widely underreported, estimates place the rate in the U.S. at 1 in 10 elders over the age of 60. One study suggests almost one-fourth of nursing home residents have experienced at least one type of physical abuse. Reporting nursing home abuse is one of the best things you can do for yourself or a loved one in Florida. It can hold the employee or facility accountable, as well as garner compensation for damages. You may need legal assistance if you decide to file a lawsuit against the nursing home or individual. Kelley | Uustal offers free consultations and case evaluation with one of our Fort Lauderdale nursing home abuse attorneys.
Get Your Loved One to a Safe Place
First, if your elderly loved one has come forward with an abuse allegation, take it seriously. Remove your loved one to a safe location. The Resident’s Bill of Rights gives all nursing home residents the right to overnight visits outside of the nursing home, without losing their beds at the facility. During the claims and investigation processes, keep your loved one out of harm’s way. Make sure he or she stays with a trusted caregiver or family member.
Document the Incident
Any authority you call with an allegation of nursing home abuse will need to see certain documents to continue with the case. Begin documenting your loved one’s abuse situation from the beginning. Write down a description of what you witnessed, or of what your loved one says happened to him or her. Take photos of the nursing home facility. Write down the facility’s address and the name of the caretaker allegedly involved. The more information you have regarding the abuse situation, the easier filing your claim will be.
Report to Authorities
Next, call 911 if your loved one has been the victim of blatant nursing home abuse or neglect. Police can investigate the facility and may make arrests depending on the situation. This will create an official record of the alleged nursing home abuse, as well as warn others in the community of potential wrongdoing at a local facility. Calling 911 can also bring an ambulance to the facility for immediate medical care for your loved one.
File a Complaint With the AHCA
If the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) regulates your loved one’s nursing home, file a complaint against the facility through the administration’s website. Call (888) 419-3456 or fill out a complaint form online to start the claims process. You may remain anonymous if you wish. The administration will ask for detailed information about the situation, including the names of all parties involved. The AHCA will then forward your complaint electronically to the Complaint Administration Unit for review.
The AHCA will step in to investigate the nursing home if it determines it is the correct regulatory authority. The inspection will come within two days after the AHCA receives the complaint, if there is reason to believe any elderly resident is in immediate danger. The administration will assess the facility, and then notify the person who filed the claim of the outcome (unless he or she wished to remain anonymous) of the inspection. The AHCA may order the facility to shut down or remedy safety issues after the investigation, if applicable.
Speak to a Legal Expert
Once your loved one is in a safe place and the authorities are inspecting the nursing home, contact a local elder abuse attorney for further counsel. A lawyer may be able to help you obtain financial compensation for your loved one’s damages. The nursing home may be liable for your elderly loved one’s medical bills, pain, and suffering, and lost quality of life. Pursuing compensation through a civil claim can shed light on the practices of local Florida nursing homes, and perhaps prevent others from suffering the same fate. It can hold an abusive caretaker or facility accountable for its actions.