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June 16, 2011

South Florida Assisted Living Facilities and Abuse

Abuse in Broward County assisted-living facilities (ALF, formerly known as adult congregate living facilities) is rampant, according to a recent series of articles published by the Miami Herald. The level of care in Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach County continues to be atrocious in many of these facilities.

The investigative three-part report, titled "Neglected to Death," looks at the inhuman living conditions and lack of patient care at ALFs, and how lawmakers plan to change the status quo.

In the report, Florida Senator Chris Smith saw first-hand the horrible conditions inside an assisted-living facility in Lauderhill. Afterward, he was compelled to take action. He joined other lawmakers in making some necessary changes to Florida's ALF laws in order to better protect those who can't protect themselves.

The horrible living conditions Smith saw during his inspection included a bathroom with no sink, human excrement on the floor, and rat feces in another room. The report also documents surprise visits at other Broward County ALFs. One such surprise visit found a man whose swollen, decaying leg had gone without medical treatment. Other examples of neglect that were documented by the report include a man who died from burns after being left in a bathtub with scalding water, and a woman who died after she was restrained in a chair for 6 hours. The report also found examples of doctored medication logs, which is commonplace in both ALF and nursing home cases and lawsuits.

Coral Springs accident and injury lawyer Dan Cytryn, who has handled lawsuits against retirement facilities now for almost a quarter of a century, reviewed the report and says, "The only way to stop this is to hit them with lawsuits for large jury verdicts. Until they've been punished monetarily, they [the ALFs] don't feel the pain! It's hard to believe that this type of conduct is allowed to occur year after year."

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