There are about 700 nursing homes in Florida, but not all of them take adequate care of their residents. The most serious nursing home violations, which are those that put the lives of residents in danger, have almost doubled in the state since 2019, and things got much worse in 2022. Inspectors issued 83 class 1 deficiency citations in 2022, and more than half of them were caused by insufficient staff or inadequate staff training.
Abuse and neglect
The nursing home abuse and neglect inspectors from the Agency for Health Care Administration found at some of the facilities they visited are scarcely believable. In two nursing homes, elderly residents were found tied to their beds. A wheelchair-bound resident at a St. Petersburg long-term care facility almost died when he was left outside in scorching weather for two hours, and an elderly woman at a nursing home in Naples lost her left leg because her caregivers either did not notice or chose not to treat a serious pressure ulcer. Only one of the facilities cited lost its Medicaid and Medicare funding, which is the most serious sanction available to officials. The rest were given an opportunity to improve the care they provide according to media reports.
New inspection guidelines
The surge in serious nursing home violations may be connected to new inspection protocols introduced by the federal government in 2016. Under the revised guidelines, inspectors are required to pay more attention to facilities that have been issued citations in the past. Officials hoped the new rules would bring these nursing homes into compliance, but that does not appear to be happening.
Harsher penalties are needed
The new nursing home inspection guidelines have uncovered abuse and neglect that has likely been going on undetected for years. Abusing senior citizens is unforgivable, but it appears to be worryingly common. More inspectors are required to check nursing homes for serious violations, and facilities that break the rules should face harsher sanctions.