It’s been over a year since 12 patients died in a hot Hollywood, Florida nursing home, yet no criminal charges have been filed. When Hurricane Irma hit the area in September 2017, patients who were living at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills were abandoned when the nursing home’s central air conditioning failed. As temperatures inside the facility climbed to 99 degrees Fahrenheit, none of the staff members safely evacuated the patients, despite federal regulations saying that nursing homes must relocate patients if internal temperatures exceed 81 degrees.
When state health regulators reviewed patients’ medical records, they found that of the 141 residents in the facility, four out of every five residents who lived on the top floor and 44% of the residents on the bottom floor suffered dehydration or significant medical effects from prolonged heat exposure. Residents were not evacuated until September 13th, a full three days after the hurricane hit. By then residents had already started dying. To date, none of the staff members at Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills has been charged with a crime, even though a state review found staff members responsible for the deaths of these patients.
Sadly, in Florida, this is nothing new. Nursing home managers and staff members routinely avoid criminal charges even when state reviews find credible evidence that they caused the death of elderly patients in their care. In fact, a recent Florida investigation by a USA Today Network found that during the four-year-period between 2013 and 2017, 54 senior deaths were caused by nursing home neglect and abuse in the Sunshine State. None of those deaths resulted in criminal charges being filed against nursing home staff, managers, or caregivers.
One of those deaths was a 75-year-old woman who was dropped from her wheelchair at Clermont Health and Rehabilitation Center by caregivers in 2016 . She sustained serious injury, breaking more than 5 bones in her legs. The caregivers covered up the injury and didn’t tell anyone about the incident. The woman, who was unable to speak due to dementia, suffered for days while caregivers propped her in wheelchairs until someone realized how badly injured she was. She died a month later from complications of multiple lower extremity fractures.
Shockingly, no charges were filed even though police recommended charging the assistants with manslaughter and criminal neglect. This nursing home abuse case highlights how even egregious injuries and blatant coverups still don’t result in criminal charges being filed.
If someone you love has been injured or harmed in a nursing home in Florida, it is important to understand that although the law is on your side, criminal charges may never be filed against your loved one’s abuser. As such, you need an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer on your side to fight for your loved one’s rights.
At Fetterman & Associates, we hold abusive caregivers and the negligent institutions that employ them responsible for the harm they have caused. Our West Palm Beach nursing home abuse lawyers fight aggressively after a nursing home incident. Call us today at 1-561-845-2510 for a free initial consultation and review of your case. We can help you protect your loved one from further abuse and safeguard the community from abusive caregivers. Call us today!
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