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Legal issues surround Florida nursing home prohibition

Nursing homes and other residential facilities that offer long-term care are home to a diverse group of senior citizens with a large array of physical needs. The most typical legal issue that occurs around nursing homes is the possibility of abuse or neglect on the part of caregivers or administrators.

Nursing home abuse and neglect is a difficult class of crimes to track, as many offenses take place hidden from public view. Many elder patients are mentally compromised, making the gathering of evidence for nursing home abuse and neglect difficult for law enforcement officials and investigators.

A less common legal issue in nursing homes is the balancing of federal and state law regarding prescribed medications. A facility in Florida has recently come under fire after denying a resident a prescribed dose of medical marijuana for chronic pain suffered due to Parkinson's Disease and arthritis.

The facility is arguing that the clear prohibition of the drug under U.S. federal statutes supersedes the legal flexibility offered by the Sunshine State. Under their interpretation, the medical director of the nursing home is allowed to choose whether or not the drug is permitted in the residence.

This case is likely to shape decision making for nursing homes and health care facilities that have to choose what treatments are available based on competing legal statuses. Residents of nursing homes and their families facing legal issues may choose to retain legal counsel. An attorney may recommend the best route forward for victims of abuse or other residents standing up for their rights.

Source: WFTS, "Florida nursing home denies use of medical marijuana by chronic pain patient," Adam Walser, Oct. 05, 2017

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