FACILITIES WHERE PATIENT NEGLECT OCCURS:
In Florida, there are numerous health care facilities that treat patients:
- nursing homes,
- assisted living facilities,
- nursing rehabilitation centers,
- memory care units,
- and adult day care centers to just name a few.
Each facility has an obligation to take in a patient population that they can properly and safely service. This means taking on patients that are appropriate candidates for that facility and making sure the number of patients does not overwhelm the medical providers.
NEGLECT DOES NOT MEAN HARM WAS INTENDED
A consequence of when these basic rules are violated is that patient neglect occurs. It should be noted that “neglect” does not mean that the medical providers are intending to hurt or mistreat the patient. Although that can happen, most cases of patient neglect in Florida are due to the medical providers being understaffed and over worked.
HEAVY WORKLOADS OF HOSPITAL NURSES
According to a 2008 peer-reviewed publication on nursing workload, it was reported that “The heavy workload of hospital nurses is a major problem for the American health care system. Nurses are experiencing higher workloads than ever before due to four main reasons:
- increased demand for nurses,
- inadequate supply of nurses
- reduced staffing and increased overtime
- reduction in patient length of stay.”
The article goes on to state that a heavy nursing workload adversely affects patient safety in acute care hospitals.
CONSEQUENCES OF NEGLECT
As indicated above, patient safety is compromised when nurses are overworked and understaffed. Therefore, the patient is at a higher risk of developing facility acquired injuries such as bed sores, unsupervised falls, infections due to lack of sterile environment, and inadequate administration of food and fluids.
For example, a hospital acquired bed sore is usually an indication that the patient is being neglected as they are not being timely repositioned and turned by the nursing staff. It also likely means that the hospital has violated one or more of the above rules: “making sure the number of patients does not overwhelm the medical providers.”
GET HELP: YOU HAVE PEOPLE IN YOUR CORNER
Part of our job as a lawyer is to investigate and determine why the hospital bed sore occurred. We encourage you to speak with your family’s medical doctors if you feel that your family member is not receiving the level of care she or he needs in a Florida hospital, assisted living facility, or nursing home. It is also important to document the injury by taking photos and/or making written complaints. If this does not yield better quality of care, there are also other individuals who we can help you reach out to, including Florida ombudsman, that can advocate for you and your family.