The fact that elder abuse and neglect is underreported is one of the reasons the problem is so hard to eliminate. The administrators of nursing homes do whatever they can to avoid submitting incident claims. Patients may know their rights are being violated or are unable to tell someone. And the family members of seniors in managed care may be unaware of the signs of elder abuse or who to tell about their suspicious. As the Nursing Home Abuse Expert™, Steve Watrel, P.A. can help families who believe their loved ones are being mistreated. Here’s how to report nursing home abuse and neglect in Florida.
There is a statute of limitations that affects how long a victim or family member has to report an incident of nursing home abuse. According to Florida Statute 492.296, the event must be reported within two years of the abuse happening. Since time is a factor, if you or a family member are the victims of elder abuse or neglect in a Florida nursing home, it’s vital to contact a qualified elder abuse attorney quickly. The sooner you start the process better. As AHCA notes, “In general, incidents older than twelve months do not result in an on-site inspection, though the information is retained in our file.”
The guidelines for nursing home care and what qualifies as abuse is determined by state and federal law. So it’s essential for family members to know the signs of elder abuse and what officials will be looking for to validate the claim. Be on the lookout for issues such as bedsores, unexplained bruises or fractures, medication errors, emotional issues, and more. In Florida, there are laws designed to ensure that nursing homes provide an environment that is safe, clean, comfortable, and homelike.
Residents are also required to have regular access to drinking water, hot water, lighting, and comfortable temperatures within the home. These fundamental rights of residents also include healthy meals, social activities and exercise, medication and emergency care, counseling, and an abuse-free environment. Other nursing home laws in Florida specify that nursing homes must install ramps, rails, and other safety features.
If you can prove that the nursing home isn’t meeting these requirements, you can file a claim with the Agency of Health Care Administration, Florida state health care agency. You can call AHCA’s Complaint Administration Unit at 1-888-419-3456 or 800-955-8771 (TTD service). You can also report a nursing home by using their online Licensed Health Care Facility Complaint Form. If the potential abuse is being caused by a caregiver that isn’t a licensed caregiver (e.g., an adult child caregiver), you can use their Unlicensed Health Care Facility Complaint Form.
If you believe a family member has been the victim of elder abuse, it’s essential to document as much as possible. Bruises and bedsores will heal, and without photographic evidence, it can turn into a case of your word against the insurance company.
If you have questions about possible nursing home abuse and neglect, the Law Firm of Steve Watrel, P.A. can help you ensure that your loved ones get the care they deserve. Send us a message online or give us a call at (800) 792-8735 to schedule a consultation.