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The Cycle of Abuse in Nursing Homes

On Behalf of | Apr 10, 2019 | Personal Injury


Are Florida nursing homes particularly bad? If you’ve been paying attention to the headlines recently, you might come to that conclusion. Patients are being neglected, assaulted, abused, and given substandard care from medical providers during their stay there. Some have attributed this problem to regulatory indifference while others claim that the corporatization of nursing homes has contributed to the problem. Indeed, government oversight has not seemed to curtail the many instances of abuse. It’s also true that these nursing homes have interesting corporate structures that seemed to influence patient care.

Understanding the Corporate Structure of Chain Nursing Homes 

The corporate structure of many nursing homes is designed to insulate major stakeholders from liability. The nursing home exists as its own separate corporate entity, but it is owned by another company. That company cannot be sued for damages if there is misconduct committed in the nursing home. Meanwhile, the nursing home is operating on what appears to be a razor-thin margin of profit. Much of the money that is earned by the nursing home is paid to the parent company in the form of exorbitant “rent” fees. This, essentially, funnels money from the nursing home into the parent company’s coffers without exposing it to liability.

When the nursing home is fined or otherwise sued, it may take a hit in terms of profits, but the money that has been earned already by the nursing home is out of reach. In some cases, if things get bad enough, the nursing home can be sanctioned by the state, but the company that owns the nursing home is untouchable.

Are Florida Nursing Homes Worse? 

The numbers aren’t good. Over a five-year period, regulators found over 7200 violations in just 54 of Florida’s worst-performing nursing homes. In 191 cases that involved a fatality, abuse or neglect was blamed. In one case, a man had been left on his bed for weeks suffered necrosis of his genitals. In 2017, 12 patients died after the air conditioning stopped functioning during Hurricane Irma. Yet these, and other serious violations are not being dealt with by state oversight agencies.

While these agencies have the power to shut down these nursing homes, they aren’t. Instead, they demand these nursing homes improve their standard of care but don’t appear to have the will or the pull to genuinely hold them to their promise.

Federal Authorities are Not Stepping In

In cases where the standard of care is egregiously low or there have been multiple instances of abuse and neglect, the federal government has the power to pull Medicare and Medicaid funding from the nursing home. This would essentially close down a number of homes that are repeat offenders. The federal government has yet to play that card, however. That leaves grieving family members with only one option: sue.

Talk to a Vero Beach Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer 

If your loved one has been injured or has died as a result of nursing home abuse, neglect, or substandard care, the Vero Beach nursing home abuse attorneys at Vocelle & Berg can help you recover damages. Give us a call or talk to us online to set up a free consultation.


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