Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect — A Real Problem in Florida

By F. Scott Pauzar, III, Florida Litigation and Personal Injury Attorney

Nursing home patient distressed

Due to our large population of retirees, Floridians are all too familiar with stories of nursing home abuse, neglect or exploitation. When a family member makes the transition to a nursing home, assisted living facility, or long-term care center, the resident, and their family members, need to feel reassured that they will be treated with the compassion and respect they deserve. Unfortunately, many of these facilities fail to reveal to prospective residents the fact that nursing home abuse and neglect is a real problem affecting nursing home residents in Florida.

Certainly, the majority of nursing home employees provide compassionate care to the residents in their facility. However, there are some facilities that fail to properly recruit, train and supervise their staff or otherwise negligently manage their facility. At times this negligence results in devastating and painful injuries to the resident. Therefore, it is vital to ensure that nursing home residents and their loved ones understand their rights under Florida law and the legal responsibilities of nursing homes in this State.

Legal Recourse

When a resident’s rights are abused, or nursing homes fail to meet statutory responsibilities, the resident has legal recourse. If you suspect that you or a loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, you should contact an attorney with experience in enforcing the rights of nursing home residents. If there is currently an immediate threat of abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a vulnerable adult, you should immediately contact the Florida Department of Children and Families via their “Abuse Hotline,” the details of which can be found at www.myflfamilies.com.

The Right to Make Independent Decisions

Under Florida law, nursing home residents have a right to make independent decisions on services provided to them within the nursing home facility. This means that employees cannot force residents to partake in activities or do things against their will. In addition, physical force is never acceptable under any circumstance unless the resident is putting themselves or others in immediate danger of physical harm. Under Florida law, nursing homes are required to both publicly state the existence of the right, as per Florida statute 400.022, and all nursing home staff must encourage and assist residents in the fullest possible exercise of their rights.

Common Violations of Nursing Home Residents’ Rights

Common violations of nursing home resident rights include neglect, prescription medication errors, unsanitary facility conditions, physical and sexual abuse. Additionally, nursing home residents are sometimes targeted by facility staff for financial exploitation. In Florida, nursing home facilities must meet stringent state standards specifying the requisite experience level of staff members and professional standards for health care. Therefore, it is critical that you know the rights of your loved one. When you suspect those rights have been violated, you should contact a dedicated Florida nursing home abuse lawyer right away to discuss any civil and criminal legal actions available to you or your loved one.

Florida personal injury attorney, F. Scott Pauzar, III has experience with cases involving the abuse, neglect or exploitation of residents in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and independent living facilities, and is available for a free consultation regarding your case.

About the Author

Attorney in suit Scott Pauzar

F. Scott Pauzar, III, Esq.

F. Scott Pauzar, III is a litigation and personal injury law attorney in Woodward, Pires & Lombardo’s Naples office. He has a broad base of legal knowledge and skills cultivated through over 15 years of experience as a litigator in complex litigation in State and Federal courts.

Previously, Mr. Pauzar was an Assistant State Attorney at the 20th Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office. During his five years as a Prosecutor, he conducted over 30 jury trials. After leaving the Office of the State Attorney, he served as an insurance defense attorney, where his practice focused on litigation of complex cases and catastrophic injuries. Mr. Pauzar now combines his jury trial and defense experience to successfully represent his clients in litigation and personal injury law matters.

About the Firm

Southwest Florida law firm Woodward, Pires & Lombardo, P.A. (WPL) provides an array of legal services to individuals, businesses and governmental entities related to Business Law, Community Association Law, Estate Planning, Family Law, Land Use & Zoning Law, Local Government Law, Commercial Litigation, Personal Injury Law, Probate and Trust Administration, and Real Estate Law. WPL has served Collier County for over 50 years since 1971, when attorney Arthur V. Woodward founded the first full-time law firm on Marco Island. Today, WPL is in two Florida locations:  Naples and Marco Island. For more information, call (239) 649-6555 or see www.wpl-legal.com.

See this article in SWFL Health & Wellness Magazine.

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