Lack of Oversight Leads to Abuses in Florida Assisted Living Facilities

In Florida, many elderly or mentally impaired people are unable to care for themselves and live in Assisted Living Facilities, or ALFs.  Assisted living facilities provide some assistance to residents but generally do not provide the same type of medical care that an individual could expect to receive in a nursing home. Assisted-living facilities are also not subject to all of the regulations that nursing homes must abide. 

However, while ALFs don’t necessarily have to do everything for a patient or resident that a nursing home would, the facilities also have to keep their promises and provide a reasonably safe living environment to those who are staying there. Unfortunately, mounting evidence shows that many assisted living facilities in Florida and throughout the United States are falling far short of their obligations. Those who are injured by substandard care in an assisted-living facility should contact a lawyer in West Palm Beach for help understanding their legal rights and pursuing a claim for damages.

Florida Paper Reports Assisted Living Facilities Can Turn Into “Houses of Horrors”

Assisted-living facilities have come under fire recently following a PBS Frontline documentary about one of the country’s largest operators of ALF homes: Emeritus.  The documentary revealed that the facilities cared primarily about keeping beds filled, and even compromised patient safety to keep the rent checks coming. In one case, for example, a woman’s severe bedsores were hidden from a visiting nurse and the woman did not receive the necessary care. She died and her family was awarded $23 million compensation from the assisted-living facility. Another resident was killed when he consumed unsecured industrial dishwashing liquid.

These stories were just the tip of the iceberg, and unfortunately the problems in assisted-living facilities exist throughout the United States, including in Florida. In fact, the Bradenton Herald recently reported that hundreds of assisted-living facilities throughout the state of Florida are not regulated by any government agency and escape scrutiny.

These facilities often fail to provide reasonable protections to residents.  For example, the Bradenton Herald indicated that state health care regulators had received more than 200 complaints about unlicensed activity just over the course of last year.  A total of 62 of the complaints revealed a facility was unlicensed. This was a 60 percent increase in the number of unlicensed facilities identified since 2010.

Some of these unlicensed facilities are doing dangerous things, such as providing an unsafe water source to their residents and housing people in  a building with rats, unsafe and unmaintained electrical wiring and fire safety hazards.  One boarding house operating as an assisted-living facility visited by inspectors last year had all of these conditions under one roof, as well as staff members and assistant directors with criminal records for serious crimes including cocaine possession and carrying a concealed weapon.

While the state does its best to prevent operation of dangerous unlicensed assisted-living facilities, unfortunately they continue to exist.  Those who are looking for a place to live for themselves or a relative who cannot care for himself or herself need to be careful to consider only licensed facilities and need to understand their rights as far as the type of care they can expect to receive in the place they choose.

A lawyer in West Palm Beach can help victims of nursing home abuse or abuse in assisted living facilities. Call David J. Glatthorn today at 800-990-9394 for a free case review.

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