Five Types of Nursing Home Neglect in Florida
In Tampa, neglect accounts for about a third of the nursing home conduct claims which authorities receive. Many advocates believe that the actual proportion may be much higher. Often, nursing home residents are heavily medicated or otherwise unaware of ongoing neglect. In other cases, they may know about the problem, but do not report it because they fear reprisal.
From a legal standpoint, there is a difference between abuse and neglect claims. Abuse is an intentional tort and negligence is an unintentional tort. So, neglect claims are easier to establish in court. As a result, damages in neglect cases are often higher and favorable settlements may be easier to obtain.
In Florida, nursing home neglect damages usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, as well as noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages may be available as well.
Pressure ulcers are one of the most common, most serious, and most preventable types of nursing home neglect injuries.
Most commonly, bedsores develop around bony areas of the body, such as the elbows, ankles, and knees. Excessive pressure initially causes redness and other mild symptoms. If left untreated, pressure ulcers quickly become open sores. At that point, they may be life-threatening.
Understaffing often leads to bedsores. To prevent pressure ulcers, patients must turn over in bed every few hours, and many older residents are unable to turn themselves. The nursing home may not have the staff to make rounds, especially during weekends and other low-census periods.
In the 21st Century one would not think that malnutrition would be a problem in modern-day Tampa nursing homes, but it remains a serious issue, once again due to chronic understaffing.
As people get older, their senses often degrade. They no longer feel hungry. More importantly, food no longer looks, smells, or tastes good. As a result, these individuals do not eat. If a nursing home dietitian or nurse does not circulate among the tables at mealtime to ensure that residents are eating, the food may go into the garbage, and no one will know.
Neglect issues often overlap. For example, if the patient is malnourished, bedsores are more likely to develop and more likely to worsen quickly.
In most nursing homes, turnover is high and qualifications for employment are low. These shortcomings are potentially deadly in the realm of medication errors.
It is far too easy to misplace a decimal point, give the wrong pills to the wrong person in line, or fail to check about medicine interactions. Especially given the high doctor-patient duty of care, these acts are often negligence. Even if the doctor delegated these responsibilities to another employee, the doctor is probably still ultimately responsible for the negligent conduct.
In many ways, older adults are like small children. Petty disputes often break out over almost nothing, and these disputes often become violent. If there is no staff member nearby to referee these fights, they quickly escalate even further. Since many residents are physically frail, a little force can cause a serious injury.
Other times, resident wandering causes resident-on-resident violence. A resident drifts into another resident’s room, and a fight ensues because there is no one there to separate the two people.
Unintentional falls are perhaps the most common type of nursing home neglect in Tampa, and they cause the most serious injuries, in many cases.
Many area nursing homes are perpetually under construction. Older adults may not be able to see signs like “Caution: Wet Floor,” or they may not be able to understand such signs. Other types of property neglect, such as loose hand rails and burned-out lights, contribute to many falls as well.
A large percentage of elderly fall victims are repeat fallers. Additionally, most of these victims are never able to live independently again after a fall, due to the serious nature of their physical and emotional fall injuries.
Reach Out to Dedicated Lawyers
Nursing home neglect is a serious problem in Florida. For a free consultation with an experienced Tampa nursing home abuse attorney, contact The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. After-hours visits are available. Since 1976, the Matassini Law Firm, P.A. has been helping victims of nursing home abuse achieve justice.