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Florida Lawmakers Pass Bills to Toughen Nursing Home Abuse

By Orlando Personal Injury Attorney on February 8, 2012

A series of articles published in recent months in the Miami Herald have shed light on elder abuse occurring in many state-run assisted living facilities, and it appears that Florida lawmakers are taking steps to toughen oversight of these facilities. The newspaper found that elder abuse is rampant in state facilities, often with little or no repercussions for the at-fault parties or the state agencies responsible for oversight. Orlando personal injury lawyer James O. Cunningham was alarmed to learn of the abuse in many state nursing homes and applauds Florida legislators for the recent passage of committee bills 7176 and 7174.

If made into law, and that seems increasingly likely, the bills will transform the state’s oversight of state-run homes from one of the worst in the country to possibly the toughest. Some lawmakers are calling for the closure of the state’s worst nursing homes where some residents have died from negligent care and banning the caretakers responsible for the abuse from ever working in these facilities again. Two Senate committees recently announced the bills, following the Miami Herald articles that detailed the dangerous squalor that frail elders were subjected to in some of the worst facilities.

Sen. Nan Rich, a Weston Democrat and Vice Chair of the Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee voiced her outrage at the reports, saying, "[The state] wasn’t doing its job. They were not enforcing the regulations, and not closing down facilities that didn’t correct the violations and abuse."

If passed, the bills will improve oversight and implement mandatory penalties in fatal neglect incidents. The bills would also create a public ratings system based on each facility’s regulatory history. In addition, the bills would remove some of the powers of the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration, which has faced sharp criticism for failing to close or penalize facilities with records of poor patient care.

Florida is home to many seniors who rely on state- and privately-run facilities to provide their day-to-day needs. While many assisted living facilities place the needs and welfare of the people under their care above all other considerations, the sad fact of the matter is there are other facilities that do not. These negligent facilities fail to provide the level of care their patients deserve, and this abuse results in deteriorating health conditions, sharply diminished quality of life and other unacceptable conditions. If you know or suspect that someone in an assisted living facility is suffering from abuse, you owe it to him or her to report it to the local police department. If someone in your family has suffered some type of elder abuse at home or in a nursing home and you want aggressive and experienced legal representation, call James O. Cunningham today at 888-425-2004 or 407-425-2000. Schedule a free consultation today to get an Orlando elder abuse attorney with more than 35 years of experience on your side.

James O. Cunningham

Since 1977, personal injury lawyer James Cunningham has provided effective legal advocacy to people who are injured through the negligent actions of another person or entity throughout the Central Florida area. He fights to obtain recoveries for his clients’ physical and emotional pain and suffering and pursues his clients’ personal injury cases with a commitment to excellence and impeccable preparation.

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