Florida Nursing Home Abuse Law Explained
Nursing home abuse is a felony in Florida. With a rising elderly population, it is incredibly important to report any suspicion of abuse. The state of Florida has laws in place to protect the elderly. It’s important to remember that there is a statute of limitations for reporting nursing home abuse. There are ways to protect your loved one, but it requires you to speak up and file a report if you suspect your loved one is the victim of nursing home abuse.
Nursing home abuse can be reported to law enforcement, abuse hotlines or APS (Adult Protective Services). Nursing home’s are often understaffed and reports of abuse are on the rise. Laws are in place to protect your loved one, contact a nursing home abuse attorney today if you suspect abuse.
Florida Nursing Home Abuse Statistics
Nursing home abuse occurs more frequently when nursing homes are understaffed. Unfortunately, some studies show that up to 91% of institutional nursing homes are chronically understaffed. A federal report showed that 40% of nursing homes would need to hire 50%, additional staff.
Neglect and emotional abuse are some of the most common forms of nursing home abuse. From 2011 to 2015, there was a 74 percent increase in reports of nursing home abuse in Florida.
Elder Population in Florida
Florida has approximately 21.3 million residents. With a surface area of 65,755 square miles, there are approximately 353.4 people per square mile. The densest populations are in the city of Jacksonville, about 900,000 residents, and the county of Miami-Dade, about 2 million residents.
There are approximately 73,000 nursing home residents in Florida. Even though Florida has the 6th highest amount of nursing home residents, behind New York, California, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, it has one of the lowest over 65 population to nursing home ratios in the country.
The mission of the Florida Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is to improve the quality of life for all Florida long-term care residents by advocating for and protecting their health, safety, welfare and rights.
Florida Elder Abuse Laws and Protection
In Florida, abuse of the elderly is a felony. According to Florida law, abuse of the elderly can be described as intentional psychological or physical harm and/or encouraging someone else to inflict psychological or physical harm.
Florida has specific laws regarding nursing home abuse: Florida Statutes Public Health 400.022 and Florida Statutes Social Welfare 429..28. These statutes list more than 20 rights of nursing home residents.
Criminal vs. Civil Nursing Home Abuse Cases
Nursing home abuse law can be broken into two categories: criminal and civil. Criminal nursing home abuse would include assault, battery, sexual assault, theft, fraud and other offenses defined by the State of Florida. Florida has increased penalties for crimes against older adults.
Nursing home abuse cases that are prosecuted through civil remedies include identity theft, financial exploitation and deception. The main difference between criminal and civil is that a criminal case is brought about by the government and a civil case is brought about by citizens.
If you feel any of your loved one’s rights have been violated, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the facility owner and/or its employees.
Changes in Florida Elder Abuse Protection
Since 2011, Florida nursing homes have shown strong results and/or improvement in a host of quality measures.
Some of the key issues that Florida nursing homes have addressed to improve care quality include:
- Pressure ulcers
- Physical restraints
- Use of antipsychotic medicines
Florida nursing homes staff above the national average, 4.6 hours per patient per day. The national average is 4.1 hours per patient per day.
Florida Elder Abuse Litigation
Nursing home abuse does have a statute of limitations. Nursing home abuse must be reported within 2 years of the abuse occurring.
Florida has stiff penalties for those convicted of nursing home abuse. Any abuse of the elderly is considered a felony. A third-degree felony can result in up to five years in prison. A first-degree felony can result in up to thirty years in prison.
If a nursing home resident is the victim of financial fraud between $20,000 and $100,000 it is considered a second-degree felony. If a nursing home resident is the victim of financial fraud over $100,000 it is considered a first-degree felony.
Nursing home abuse cases can be litigated at the local, state or federal level depending on the severity of the case. If you believe you have a case you can fill out a free case evaluation here.
Florida Elder Abuse Case Examples
Nursing home abuse cases can range based on the type of case and the amount of neglect or abuse in the case. Here are a few public examples of results in the State of Florida:
- 92-year-old nursing home resident died after falling down a flight of stairs while strapped into a wheelchair. Staff did not find her body until almost an hour after her death. $200 million verdict.
- 80-year-old nursing home resident died after a staff member allegedly dumped urine and feces on her surgical wound. $2.1 million verdict.
- Patient may have gone unfed for a month, was not given medication, and did not receive treatment for an infection that turned gangrenous and required portions of a bone removed. $20 million verdict.
- 77-year-old woman died after only four months at a nursing home. $1.76 million verdict.
Reporting Nursing Home Abuse in Florida
If there is an emergency at a nursing home you should call 911. If there is a suspicion of abuse, but it is not an emergency, you should call the local non-emergency number for the police.
Here are a few other options if you live in the State of Florida to report nursing home abuse:
- Adult Protective Services (850) 922-4076
- Local or Regional Ombudsman contact click here
- Florida Abuse Hotline (800) 962-2873
- Florida Abuse Hotline for Deaf (800) 453-5145
You can take action through the designated program for Florida Ombudsman.
Retaining a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer in Florida
Protecting your loved one, as well as future residents, is only possible if you report suspected abuse. Reporting nursing home abuse in a timely manner is essential to the success of your case and most importantly, the protection of your loved one.
Contacting an attorney can help ensure that your loved one is protected and justice is served for those who cannot protect themselves. Please report any suspected abuse and contact an attorney immediately. After the abuse has been reported, it is imperative to seek legal help for your case. You can start a free case review here.