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Investigations of nursing home abuse raise questions

Florida has an ever-growing population of senior citizens, as elderly Americans and Canadians discover the warm climate and pleasant surroundings. Thousands of Floridians over the age of 65 rely on assistance to keep up their health care and safety.

There are few nightmares worse than when those responsible for providing this care fail or even turn on elderly people. Although abuse and neglect in nursing homes and assisted living facilities are rare, any incident can be dangerous to the victim and damaging to others as well.

Recent investigations by Florida news agencies have shown several violations in nursing homes across the state that should have been reported to law enforcement but were not. These cases include dangerous falls, starvation and even sexual assault.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Office of the Inspector General asserts that up to 25 percent of abuse and neglect cases in nursing homes may go unreported. This allows nurses and caretakers to continue their abusive practices.

The HHS review found 134 potential cases of abuse that should have been recorded but were not. Thirty-eight cases were severe enough to require law enforcement involvement, but the nursing homes' management did not do so. "They need to have accountability, or they won't be responsible at all," said an HHS representative.

Victims of nursing home abuse and neglect as well as their family members sadly retain much of the responsibility to report these violations. An attorney may be able to help victims and their loved ones access their legal options against those who were responsible.

Source: WPEC, "The government failure allowing nursing home nightmares to happen," Lynda Figueredo, Nov. 10, 2017

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