Criminal Investigation Underway For Florida Nursing Home Deaths
It’s what no family with loved ones in a nursing home wants to hear: that the facility experienced a disaster, and countless residents were injured and/or killed as a result.
Unfortunately, that’s precisely what happened at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, where eight people died during Hurricane Irma. Now, not only is the facility being sued for negligence, but police recently obtained a search warrant in their criminal investigation of the deaths. These deaths at the facility brought the overall death toll from Irma to 81 due to how hard-hit Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands were.
However, is a criminal investigation appropriate here? Those running the facility reportedly called Florida Power & Light within an hour of losing power, and scrambled to protect the residents using fans, but Florida Power & Light didn’t show up to fix the problem. In addition, about 150 of the nearly 700 nursing homes across the state of Florida still lacked any power as of September 13th; thus, does the fault lie with the home’s operators?
Laws & Regulations
In states like Florida, nursing homes are regulated by the Department of Health and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Florida also has laws relating to the standard of care that patients and residents should expect, which refers to the right to civil and religious liberties, private and uncensored communication, to deny or withdraw consent to access by anyone, present grievances, manage their financial affairs, to be fully informed, refuse medication, and receive adequate and appropriate health care and protective and support services, and other, similar rights.
While these laws do not explicitly go into what, specifically, the facility must do in the event of a natural disaster like Hurricane Irma, the question ultimately becomes whether those running the facility breached the standard of care to such an extent as to constitute criminal activity. Only after the incident did Florida Governor Rick Scott announced new rules requiring nursing homes and other assisted living facilities to have generators with a specific amount of power capable of maintaining comfortable indoor temperatures for up to 96 hours after power loss.
Consult a Criminal Defense Lawyer
Searches conducted by police are not always lawful, and the evidence they obtain may not be admissible in court. Sometimes, facilities like these are the target of criminal investigations simply because an incident has obtained so much coverage in the press; and yet; the facts reveal that a number of nursing homes were in the same position as this one during the hurricane.
If you are facing criminal charges, you need to work with an aggressive, knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer.
At the Baez Law Firm, our criminal defense attorneys represent clients in all manner of criminal cases throughout Florida and Massachusetts. Contact us today to find out more.