When a loved one enters a nursing home, there is an expectation that he or she is under the care of qualified professionals who will ensure that health, comfort, and safety are priorities at all times. It is hard to forget the sad story out of the Hollywood Hills nursing home after Hurricane Irma when 12 seniors tragically died due to the fact that the air conditioning went out at the facility and there was no proper backup system in place. Unfortunately, new evidence is coming to light that nursing home deficiencies may not be as uncommon as we would expect them to be.
Recent findings initially discovered during a USA TODAY NETWORK-FLORIDA investigation, and then through a federal audit, highlight the fact that Florida state inspectors may not have actually ensured that many nursing home problems were corrected after cited by state regulators over the course of years.
Federal Audit Findings
The recent federal audit found that the Florida agency for overseeing nursing homes failed to make sure that facility management corrected hundreds of problems that may have put patients at risk. According to the findings, Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) allowed nursing homes with long histories of providing care to continue with their operations despite some deficiencies.
The initial report by USA TODAY NETWORK, which was published in February, discovered that the ACHA, which also licenses nursing homes in the state, hardly ever used the highest sanctions at its disposal. Additionally, nursing homes received fines for violations on average of only a few thousand dollars.
Nursing Homes Scored Poorly
The report findings showed that dozens of homes scored poorly during inspections and had frequent violations over the course of about five years, but continued to operate despite the issues.
A U.S. Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General audit, which was published in April, stated that AHCA wasn’t even verifying if the problems were properly corrected at each facility.
Inspector General Audit
The Inspector General Audit revealed that out of a sample of 100 nursing homes from the 2,381 deficiencies, the AHCA was relying on the facilities to self-report that they had corrected problems, which was proven to be unreliable.
The report estimates that in hundreds of cases across the state, the agency responsible for regulation failed to obtain evidence that any of the issues cited were actually corrected, and in many cases, they could not provide sufficient evidence that homes had taken corrective action at all.
No Excuses for Deficiencies
While some argue that there no patients were harmed through many of these issues cited by the AHCA, however, even low-level issues in these facilities can be an indicator of a troubled facility. The nursing home in Hollywood Hills where 12 people died after Hurricane Irma had a history of low-level deficiencies, which may have been an early indicator that it was not prepared to handle a natural disaster. Unfortunately, several innocent victims lost their lives before any real action was taken against the facility.
If you loved one has been injured or died as a result of negligence at a nursing home, you may be eligible to receive compensation due to your losses. You should contact an experienced personal injury and wrongful death attorney who can help guide you through the legal process. At Panter, Panter, and Sampedro, we believe in advocating on behalf of our clients who have been injured by others, and we have extensive experience in working with patients and their families who have been harmed by the negligent acts of nursing care facilities.
Mills, R., & Payne, M. (2018, May 09). Feds: FL inspectors didn’t ensure hundreds of problems at nursing homes corrected. Retrieved from https://naplesnews.com/story/news/special-reports/2018/05/09/florida-regulators-find-problems-nursing-homes-but-dont-follow-up/590031002/