The Rights of Nursing Home Residents
The elderly comprise one of the most vulnerable populations generally, and are particularly at risk for abuse and neglect in Florida, due to the sheer number of retirees that move to the state. Nursing home abuse is an issue that can have tragic consequences, so it is important to inform nursing home residents and their families about the laws in place that are designed to protect this group of people. The dissemination of this information is especially necessary given that the percentage of the population in Florida is projected to be over 65 for 2014 is 19.1, according to the Census Bureau. This constitutes over 3.7 million people. A recent story in the Miami Herald looks at a non-profit group operating nursing homes that could serve as an example of the potential dangers facing the elderly residents. This group runs a chain of nursing home facilities in the Miami-Dade area and was repeatedly cited by state and federal regulators for nursing home violations, including negligent care of residents and defrauding Medicaid and Medicare. Representatives for the nursing homes group say the deficiencies have been corrected, and the homes are still currently in business. Understanding what elder abuse is and the rights granted to nursing home residents under Florida law could help prevent or curtail this type of behavior.
Types of Elder Abuse
Abuse of the elderly can occur in a variety of ways. According to the Administration on Aging, a federal agency, elder abuse encompasses any of the following:
- physical abuse;
- sexual abuse;
- financial exploitation;
- emotional abuse;
- abandonment; and
Further, elder abuse and neglect are crimes in Florida punishable by prison time. Elder abuse includes any of the following acts:
- intentional infliction of physical or psychological injury;
- an intentional act that one could reasonably expect to cause physical or psychological injury; or
- encouraging another person to engage in intentional acts that could result in physical or psychological harm.
Neglect of an elderly person, which is a common complaint in the nursing home setting, occurs if a caregiver:
- fails to provide the elderly person with the care, supervision and services needed to sustain the elderly person’s physical and mental health, including things like food, clothing, shelter and medical care; or
- fails to make a reasonable effort to protect an elderly person from abuse, neglect or exploitation.
Rights of Nursing Home Residents
Florida law requires nursing homes to create a statement of rights and responsibilities that is given to residents so they are informed about what they should expect to experience while living in this type of facility. The list of rights granted to nursing home residents is fairly long and involved, but some of the more important ones include:
- private and censored communication with any person of the resident’s choice during visiting hours and during overnight visits with family and friends;
- to bring complaints to the facility staff, government officials or anyone else about issues with resident care;
- to manage their own financial affairs or delegate the authority to the facility as a licensee to hold any funds in trust. The facility must keep the funds separate from those of the facility and provide quarterly accounting statements to the resident or the person responsible for the resident about any transactions;
- to be kept informed about medical conditions and proposed treatment, unless the resident is unable to provide informed consent; and
- to refuse medical treatment or medication.
Consult with an Lawyer
If you, or a loved one, believe neglect or abuse is occurring at a nursing home facility, it is important to consult with a lawyer about protecting your rights and receiving compensation for your suffering. The Miami law firm Pita Weber & Del Prado works with clients to recover just compensation for nursing home abuse and neglect victims. Contact us to discuss your case today.