The companies that own and manage Consulate Health Care nursing centers in Lakeland and Winter Haven are finding themselves in hot water. Three wrongful death lawsuits have recently been filed in Circuit Court in Polk County against the companies by a Tampa law firm seeking damages in excess of $15,000. Those lawsuits accuse them of inadequate staffing to care for patients who were significantly ill and for continuing to admit significantly ill patients despite the inadequate staffing. As a result, the lawsuits claimed, the now-deceased residents named in the lawsuits received inadequate care. In short, the homes made decisions regarding which patients would be admitted not according to whether the homes could meet those particular patients’ needs, but instead by how much the nursing homes would be paid.

More specifically, the lawsuits allege that staffing was based on a per-resident, perc-day budget instead of staffing to meet the particular residents’ needs. The residents who passed away that are the subject of the lawsuit weren’t adequately evaluated and monitored for signs of dehydration and symptoms of infection. All three of the residents died shortly after being discharged from the facilities.

Sadly, these accusations are among the most common causes of neglect in nursing homes. While prioritizing costs over patient care, some homes do employ either too few staff or staff that are too inexperienced (or both), which can be a recipe for disaster. Indeed, staffing shortages or inadequately trained staff can lead to either too heavy of workloads or neglect of our most treasured citizens and relatives.

These cases ended tragically. How could a situation like this have been prevented? What are the warning signs that your relative may be in a precarious or neglectful situation at his or her nursing home?

There can really be no substitute for visiting your loved one as frequently as you can. Just like parents of small children should visit their kids’ daycare unannounced, relatives of elderly persons should likewise drop in unexpectedly to their relative’s nursing home. While there, look around to determine whether there are any red flags you observe. Speak to the nursing home personnel and develop personal relationships with them. Tell them candidly if you observe something that isn’t as it should be. Establishing that rapport early on can be critical in ensuring that potential problems are identified, addressed, and resolved.

Also, if possible, communicate with your loved one (if possible), and monitor them for any physical signs of neglect or abuse and changes in demeanor. You can visit our “Areas of Practice” page for other warning signs of nursing home neglect.

However, if you suspect there is a serious problem at a particular facility, report that problem immediately. Also, if you suspect your loved one is being abused or neglected at a nursing home, call us at Brooks Law Group. If your loved one dies as a result of nursing home neglect or abuse, call us at Brooks. We can help determine what legal action should be taken and to help you recover any monetary compensation to which you are entitled.

Steve was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. As was the practice for new doctors his father worked day and night during his medical residency at Charity Hospital there. Steve comes from a long line of doctors. His father, his grandfather, his great grandfather, even two uncles were all specialists and/or surgeons in their chosen medical specialties, including internal medicine specialist, obstetrics / gynecology, neurosurgery and general practice / surgery. His great-great grandfather was the Surgeon General of Ohio during the Civil War.