New Florida Law Aims to Address Nursing Home Abuse
Recently, Governor DeSantis signed a new measure into law that aims to help identify systemic problems in nursing home care and reduce the overall risk of nursing home abuse and neglect. Specifically, the law calls for prosecutors, experts in the medical field, and elder care providers in every circuit in Florida to create special teams that will review closed death cases in which elder abuse was suspected or alleged to determine whether policy changes could prevent similar tragedies in the future.
Despite the steps being taken across the country to eliminate nursing home abuse and neglect, these types of crimes continue to occur at an alarming rate. Fortunately, it is possible to hold negligent nursing homes accountable for their failure to protect or provide adequate care to nursing home residents, so if your own loved one was the victim of neglect or abuse at a long-term care facility, it is important to contact an experienced Florida medical malpractice lawyer who can explain your legal options.
Reviewing Closed Nursing Home Abuse Cases
The new law, formerly Senate Bill 400, allows for the creation of elder abuse fatality review teams in all of Florida’s 20 judicial circuits to be made up of:
- Elder law attorneys;
- County judges;
- Elder care advocates; and
- Law enforcement officers.
Once created, these teams will be tasked with reviewing cases from their circuit where neglect or abuse was found to be the cause of, or related to, an elderly person’s death. Although the teams are limited to reviewing cases that have been closed by the State Attorney’s Office, they are not restricted to cases that resulted in criminal prosecution. Instead, the State Attorney’s Office need only be finished with the case for the circuit team to initiate a review.
Policy Changes and Legal Suggestions
When reviewing cases, the circuit teams have been directed to look at the details of the case, as well as at how the investigation unfolded and how it was handled. The investigators will also be responsible for identifying gaps in service and potential policy changes that could prevent future abuse-related deaths in nursing homes. Ultimately, the purpose of the law isn’t to facilitate criminal charges, but to create an investigative branch that can make recommendations to the governor, lawmakers, and the Department of Children and Families on a yearly basis.
Elder advocates have long been in favor of the law, as Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration has been accused of failing to investigate resident deaths and an unwillingness to take serious action against nursing homes that provide substandard care.
Florida Attorneys Experienced with Allegations of Nursing Home Abuse
If you are concerned about the level of care being provided to your own elderly loved one at a nursing home or long-term care facility, please contact one of the experienced Fort Lauderdale medical malpractice lawyers at Boone & Davis by calling 954-566-9919. Initial consultations are conducted free of charge, so don’t hesitate to call our office or send us an online message today.