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Government Inaction Allows Nursing Home Abuse to Continue Across Florida

Consulate Health Care (Consulate) is Florida’s largest nursing home network. But the organization’s size does not guarantee that it is delivering the best quality of care to residents who live in its assisted living facilities and nursing homes. Consulate has been followed by elder abuse lawsuits that allege the company intentionally neglects many of its residents to save its bottom line.

For example, some residents were reportedly denied necessary physical therapy because Consulate told them that the care wasn’t covered by their insurance policy. In reality, the nursing home was paid by the government to provide such treatments at no cost to the patient. Rather than using that money to provide the therapies, though, Consulate allegedly pocketed the funds or used it elsewhere while lying to residents about available services.

Cloudy Legal Systems Protect Perpetrators

According to a 2018 article from Naples Daily News – which you can view in full by clicking here – Consulate and other nursing home companies in Florida have been able to escape most penalties for inadequate and unsafe care due to government inaction. Years ago, Consulate was slammed with a dozen lawsuits for misleading and overcharging patients, as well as misappropriating government funding. A jury ordered the nursing home company to pay $347.8 million, but the verdict was later overturned by a Tampa federal judge. He controversially determined that Consulate couldn’t be ordered to pay the award because any wrongdoing it had been accused of committing was never answered by state or federal regulator action. In other words, Consulate couldn’t be punished through the courts because it wasn’t first punished by an administrator or industry regulator.

After the upset victory for the nursing home network, Consulate was quick to point out that it rarely had to pay any fines for nursing home safety violations when its locations were inspected. However, most people who have elderly loved ones living in nursing homes know that a lack of fines doesn’t mean a lack of violations.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have long been criticized for conducting minimal inspections that leave most of the actual work up to the nursing home it is meant to inspect. That is to say that nursing homes can often complete the majority of their own CMS inspections, so, of course, they rank well. The Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) has also been criticized for the same reasons, which is a bit ironic because AHCA has been embroiled in many of the lawsuits filed against Consulate.

Where Does This Leave Nursing Home Residents?

If you can’t confidently depend on the CMS and AHCA to rate and review nursing homes, and you can’t depend entirely on the courts to take action against nursing homes that endanger its residents, where does that leave you as a nursing home resident or someone with a loved one in a nursing home? You don’t have to “fend for yourself,” but you do need to pay attention to the day-to-day operations of a nursing home. You might have to sleuth out signs of neglect yourself and be willing to take legal action in response.

Make sure you team up with a law firm that knows how to bring a case and what to do if the court system pushes back, too. In Florida, the legal team that the people trust is Ford, Dean & Rotundo, PA. To see if we can help you with your case, dial (305) 909-6541 or contact us online now.

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