While this story is unfolding in Oklahoma instead of south Florida, it concerns an issue that hits close to home for many individuals including experienced Boca Raton personal injury attorneys: nursing home abuse. Fern Horton, an 86 year old woman from Oklahoma City, who has experienced abuse and neglect in that state’s nursing homes during stints following surgeries, has taken the issue to her state’s legislature in a shining example of confronting an issue that faces many of the elderly and their loved ones.
Horton says that Oklahoma should be doing more to protect the elderly in nursing homes, and has recently gone after lawmakers in the state’s House committee on Long Term Care and Senior Services’ refusal to hear the bill that she is proposing to enact those protections. In Florida, many seniors will tell you that there are frequent problems with abuse and neglect in assisted living facilities; while families hope that these are the exception rather than the rule, the truth of the matter is that every death from abuse or neglect is a tragedy, and those responsible for it should be held legally accountable. Horton’s bill in Oklahoma would require more staff at nursing homes and long-term care facilities as well as more oversight on the staff. As any Boca Raton personal injury lawyer can attest, nursing home abuse and neglect are more frequent all over the country than many would like to think.
According to statistics compiled by A Perfect Cause, an organization in Oklahoma dedicated to improving conditions in nursing homes, some 3,500 people die in nursing homes and long-term care facilities in Oklahoma every year. According to an experienced Boca Raton personal injury lawyer, signs of abuse and neglect include infections, excessive bruising, bed sores, dehydration, improper use of restraints, poor personal hygiene, and unexplained falls or broken bones. While there have been multiple attempts to increase accountability in Florida’s nursing homes and assisted living facilities, even in the best of these locations there is the possibility of negligence. Fern Horton’s crusade in Oklahoma is not so foreign an idea to many south Florida residents; she said in her attack on the Oklahoma state House, “I am terribly upset about it. Once you go into a nursing home, the US Constitution doesn’t apply to you.” While things may not be at such an extreme in the many facilities that south Florida is home to, it is certainly true that the elderly need strong advocates to make sure that they are receiving the care and attention that they deserve. Boca Raton personal injury attorneys know that while we all would like to assume that incidents of abuse and neglect, as well as plain negligence, are very rare indeed, individuals running and working the facilities we depend on to help our elderly loved ones are human—and just as prone to errors and issues as anyone else in the world. Best of luck to Fern Horton in her mission to make nursing homes a safer place for the elderly of Oklahoma.