While there are scores of cases regarding neglect and abuse in nursing homes reported each year, there are far too many unreported incidents from either a lack of willingness or understanding of how to approach the process.

Regardless, when neglect and abuse are present, nursing home residents and/or their families in the Tampa area must take action. In fact, according to Florida law, all abuse and/or even the suspicion of abuse must be reported immediately. Florida law 825.102 prohibits abuse, aggravated abuse and neglect of vulnerable adults. The law defines abuse as intentionally physically or psychologically injuring a vulnerable adult, or doing something likely to cause a physical or psychological injury.

Even if the neglect or abuse does not result in actual harm, it can still be a felony under Florida law. If the abuse is aggravated, it can be a first-degree felony. Florida law also contains a prohibition of neglect against vulnerable adults, which applies to all caregivers. Caregivers may violate this law if they fail to provide a person in their care with appropriate food, nutrition, clothing and other necessities. Neglect of a vulnerable adult also can be a felony.

There are several ways to report neglect or abuse in a nursing home:

Call 911 — Alerting the authorities is one of the best ways to ensure your loved one and other residents are immediately protected from further abuse. To note, the Department of Justice has specifically trained law enforcement officers on the best methods for responding to calls involving abuse of the elderly.

Fill out a police report — Information provided to the police or adult protective services is critical in an investigation. Take down as much detailed information as possible. You most likely will be asked to provide an explanation of why you suspect abuse and provide the following information:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Gender
  • Approximate age
  • Location of the person you are concerned about

Self-report the incident — There are several organizations you can call, including the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA), the Florida Department of Children and Families (which has a special division devoted entirely to the protection of the elderly) or the Florida Abuse Hotline (available 24 hours a day, every day).

The information you need for the report includes the following information:

  • The name of the nursing home
  • The facility’s Medicaid ID number
  • The date(s) on which you or your family member was under care at the facility
  • An explanation of how and where the neglect or abuse happened

Seek legal counsel — By contacting a civil attorney, you can help bring a claim for your loved one’s damages. Florida law enables you to bring a claim for recovery against the person or company responsible for the abuse. While a civil claim does not erase the emotional or physical pain caused by nursing home neglect or abuse, it can help prevent further abuse of other nursing home residents in the future.

The choice you make depends on the reason(s) for reporting the facility. Whichever way you choose, your best course of action is to seek legal representation—a firm that can help guide you through every step in this journey.

With more than 56 years of experience, our legal team at Trentalange & Kelley P.A. is committed to making your case personal. From negotiating with insurance companies to aggressively representing your rights, our personal injury lawyers are dedicated to giving you the advantages you need. Call the Trentalange & Kelley P.A. team to get the peace of mind you need at 813-226-1080. Get a free consultation today.

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