Recently, USA Today investigated numerous suspicious deaths inside Florida nursing homes. In most cited cases, Florida’s Department of Children and Families found nursing home neglect, negligence or wrongdoing. Despite these findings, AHCA took little to no administrative action against the negligent nursing homes.
The Agency for Health Care Administration’s Failure to Act in the Face of Nursing Home Negligence Related Deaths
The Agency for Health Care Administration, commonly referred to as AHCA, is the administrative oversight agency tasked with policing nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Our Florida nursing home abuse attorneys routinely advise clients to contact the agency when reporting nursing home abuse. However, it appears that AHCA has been slow to react to many of the confirmed suspcious deaths that occurred in local Florida facilities.
And there is often no evidence AHCA even investigates those deaths, raising questions about whether nursing homes are held accountable when patients die from mistreatment.
“The industry complains about how punitive and horrible the system is and, in reality, almost nothing happens to any of them, no matter how bad the situation,” said Toby Edelman, senior policy attorney with the nonprofit Center for Medicare Advocacy in Connecticut. — Naples News
Ultimately, the USA Today investigation concluded that in 32 of 43 cases where the nursing home resident’s death was determined to be due to neglect, AHCA issued no penalty or fine. In approximately 67% of these cases, AHCA failed to investigate the nursing home’s culpability in the wrongful deaths.
AHCA’s Secretary Appears to Contradict Prior Statements
In response to the USA Today investigation, Justin Senior, the Secretary for AHCA, stated that all 54 cases referenced in the investigation were investigated by AHCA. In 18 of those cases, Senior states AHCA found no violations. Senior also stated that administrative hearings held by the agency are legal proceedings and require the agency to meet a high legal standard (clear and convincing evidence).
AHCA’s Secretary claims that all 54 cases of wrongful death were investigated. However, this appears to be contradicted by AHCA’s staff report, as detailed by news-press.com, a USA Today affiliate. The agency has not clarified the apparent inconsistency any further.
Are Nursing Homes Being Properly Policed by AHCA and DCF?
There is good reason to doubt the effectiveness of Florida agency investigation into individual incidents of nursing home neglect. Our law firm’s focus is on cases involving neglect, abuse and wrongful death inside Florida nursing homes, ALF’s and hospitals. Our lawyers have personally worked on cases involving jaw-dropping events of negligence where DCF or AHCA failed to cite the facility for wrongdoing. Worse yet, when fines and penalties are issued, they usually amount to minor slaps on the wrist in the range of $1,000 to $2,000.
For these reasons, if you believe your loved one suffered wrongful death inside a facility, take action. By all means, report the improper conduct to DCF, AHCA and the Ombudsman; however, make sure to retain a competent nursing home negligence lawyer to file a civil claim. Our attorneys regularly recover much more for families in a civil suit, when compared to the minimal amount a negligent nursing home is penalized by the State of Florida.
Learn more about Florida’s nursing home residents’ rights, and how our skilled, narrowly focused nursing home negligence attorneys can help guide you on your journey to justice.
Call to speak with one of our attorneys now in a completely free case consultation: 561-717-0817.
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