Lawyer Resources for Florida

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Attorneys Representing Injured Victims of Consulate Healthcare of Melbourne

If the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) determine that the nursing facility is managed poorly with identifiable violations and deficiencies, the federal agency holds the Home accountable for making immediate corrections. If the problems tend to exacerbate or recur, the federal agency may designate the nursing home a Special Focus Facility (SFF) that must follow specific rules to maintain its contract with Medicare and Medicaid to provide care to those in need.

In addition to the designation, the facility must undergo two to three times the normal numbers of surveys and evaluations that the remaining nursing homes, assistive living centers, and rehabilitation facilities participate in every year.

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Nursing Home Arbitration TrendAn emerging trend in nursing home litigation has been the incorporation of arbitration clauses into admission paperwork. Under an arbitration provision, patients forfeit their right to a jury trial and disputes are resolved at a private arbitration hearing by an arbitrator.  Similarly, some arbitration provisions limit an individuals economic recovery even though state laws provide otherwise.

While most patients and their families never anticipate the need to rely on an arbitration clause to resolve disputes such as injuries occurring to a patient during a nursing home admssion, arbitration provisions significantly impair individual’s rights.  Many nursing home arbitrations are decided by a single arbitrator (who may be readily used by facilities) and use evidentiary provisions that can make the production of documents and testimony extremely difficult.

Recognizing the inherent unfairness of nursing home arbitration clauses, the Florida Supreme Court recently invalidated these provisions in two separate nursing home negligence cases (Gayle Shotts v. OP Winter Haven Inc. and Angela Gessa v. Manor Care of Florida Inc.) on the basis that the arbitration provisions undermine public policy and that such agreements impede on the rights granted to injured parties by the state’s legislature.

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If you are a nursing home operator, I suspect you’d cringe when you hear about Medicare’s list of Special Focus Facilities.  Special Focus Facilities (SFF) are nursing homes identified by Medicare that have a pattern of problems related to poor patient care.

Florida Nursing Home Amongst Nations WorstEarning a spot on the SFF list really should be a major wake up call for the facilities to quickly improve patient care or risk losing funding from Medicare and Medicaid— the primary source of all nursing home funding.  Put another way: improve your care or go out of business.

Oak Manor Healthcare & Rehabilitation Center, a Florida Nursing Home, is the latest facility to be named to this dismal list.  The SFF designation for Oak Manor comes after officials inspected the facility and discovered dangerous conditions such as: unsupervised smoking and broken call bells for patients to alert staff of problems.

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Picture-710“Frightened’ is the best way to describe my reaction to a news story regarding Florida’s decision to end food preparation inspections at nursing homes and hospitals in the state.  In the past, nursing homes and hospitals were inspected on a quarterly basis with respect to safe food handling. Budget cuts are the reason cited by state authorities for the hault in food-safety inspections.

Similar food inspections at day care centers will continue and will be taken over by the Florida Department of Children and Families.  Read more about this food safety issue involving Florida nursing homes and hospitals here.

Patients and families should be outraged by this latest budget cutting measure that blatantly ignores the major problems that accompany unsanitary food prepared in an institutional setting.  The sad reality is that many sick and elderly will suffer additional harm this year due to food-related illnesses that may likely have been caught by inspectors.

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