A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against a Central Florida nursing home by the daughter of a woman who resided there for two years prior to her April 2013 death.
According to news reports, at the time of her passing, the elderly resident suffered a host of serious conditions, most indicative of improper care and neglect. Among those: Bedsores, jaw and eye infections, urinary tract infections, fungal tongue infection, dehydration, drug-resistant staph infection, wound infection and sepsis.
Plaintiffs assert the defendants, which include the nursing home, administrators and two management companies, were so focused on profits, that they refused to hire additional staff, even as they took on patients with more and more advanced medical needs. The companies would have been consistently reimbursed higher amounts for taking on these patients, but the lawsuit contends the facility didn’t have the means or personnel to provide proper care – and didn’t take measures to make upgrades.
Our Fort Myers nursing home abuse lawyers know this isn’t especially uncommon in an industry that is rapidly growing, and more frequently placing profits before people.
This particular facility claimed to be non-profit on the books. However, the lawsuit contends the involvement of the management companies skewed this because the corporate structure was such they received a percentage of the facility’s revenues. That gave the companies incentive not to increase staff or reduce the number of patients in order to ensure adequate care.
What’s more, the lawsuit specifically alleges the company claims not-for-profit status “despite the absence of an exempt purpose or operation.”
Much research has been devoted to whether the “non-profit” or “profit” status affects degree of care, and generally it’s been found that for-profit nursing homes tend to be associated with higher staff turn-over rates, fewer staff members, more patients and higher rates of neglect and abuse. Still, there are decent for-profit facilities (which account for two-thirds of all nursing homes today) and there are lousy non-profits.
The Office of Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services found in 2007 more than 90 percent of nursing homes were cited for violation of federal and safety standards, with for-profit facilities being more likely than others to have problems. About 17 percent of nursing homes were found to have deficiencies that caused either actual harm or immediate jeopardy to patients, ranging from poor nutrition to medication errors to infected bedsores.
Of the nearly 37,000 nursing home abuse and neglect complaints received each year by federal inspectors, nearly 40 percent are substantiated.
Medical complications such as those described by the plaintiff in the recent Central Florida case would generally not be common in a facility where care was adequate. Just one of those conditions would be indicative of negligent care. Take collectively, they point to serious problems that would tend to indicate the welfare of other patients should be closely examined.
Bed sores are pressure ulcers characterized by injury to the skin and underlying tissue as a result of prolonged pressure on the skin, usually from not properly moving or turning a patient who is totally or partially immobile. Once a bed sore emerges, failure to treat it properly and swiftly can result in serious complications.
Dehydration (like malnutrition) is usually the result of sheer neglect, when staffers either forget or refuse to provide enough fluids.
Sepsis, meanwhile, is caused by bacteria entering the body through open wounds or IV lines or catheters. If not diagnosed and treated immediately, it can be fatal.
Nursing home residents are often not in the best health to start, but this is why effective care is so imperative. These conditions are largely preventable. No one deserves to live out their last days this way.
If a loved one has suffered injury or death due to nursing home abuse or neglect in Fort Myers, contact the Hollander Law Firm at (888) 751-7770 for a free and confidential consultation. There is no fee unless we win.
Wrongful Death Suit Challenges Status of Not-for-Profit Nursing Home, Aug. 3, 2014, By Robin Williams Adams, The Ledger
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