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Investigation finds unreported cases of elder neglect and abuse

Florida is home to many of the country's senior citizens, enjoying their golden years with friends and relatives in reliably good weather. The state also has a high number of nursing homes and, although it is rare among health care professionals, some reports of elder abuse and neglect have created the need to research homes before living in one.

One of the greatest concerns is that instances of abuse and neglect in senior care facilities are not even discovered or reported. The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) must keep information confidential under state law, while they also have a responsibility to enforce rules for residents' safety and expose violations to ensure they do not happen again.

An independent investigation yielded several instances of neglect that could have resulted in injury or death to nursing home residents. Surveillance cameras spotted an 81-year-old man leaving a nursing home by climbing over a 6-foot fence. Another resident went missing from a different facility, only to be found dead nearby.

A nursing home office manager in Tampa pleaded guilty last year to stealing thousands of dollars from two residents. None of these three incidents appeared on the Florida web site dedicated to helping people make decisions about nursing homes for senior relatives.

A lawsuit in Florida civil court may be the last resort to get a home to take responsibility for elder abuse or neglect. Compensatory damages can cover the costs of recovery, while punitive damages can discourage nursing homes from skirting the rules. An attorney can help file and forward such a case.

Source: Paul LaGrone, "Reports of neglect, runaway residents, charges of fraud left off of state website," May 08, 2018

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