Last month, a Florida administrative judge sided with the nursing home industry, striking down a life-saving measure that requires nursing homes to have backup generators to protect residents in the event of a power outage, according to the Washington Post.
As Beasley Allen previously reported, following Hurricane Irma, the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills lost power for several days with no backup generator to restore power. The stifling heat led to the deaths of 10 residents, and other residents required emergency treatment for dehydration, breathing difficulties, and other heat exhaustion symptoms. Some patients’ body temperatures reached between 107 to 109.9 degrees.
Within days of the tragic and preventable deaths, Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) used his emergency powers and issued a new rule. The rule required nursing homes and assisted living facilities to have generators that could provide enough backup power to keep facilities running for 96 hours, or four days. The governor gave nursing homes 60 days to meet the requirements.
However, rather than working to comply with the rule and protect their residents, the industry challenged the rule. It filed claims in multiple judicial venues before finding a judge willing to provide a favorable ruling, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Governor Scott’s administration vows to appeal the decision and is working to “implement the power requirements through a more-traditional rule-making process, which requires public meetings,” according to NewsChief.com.
The industry’s efforts to scuttle the protective measure were also on display during a public hearing earlier this month. The hearing was hosted by the state Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) on a proposed rule, which will apply to nursing homes and will be similar to the emergency rule issued by the governor in September.
Florida Health Care Association, a lobbying organization for Florida’s nursing home industry, complained about the costs and time constraints of complying with the life-saving rule. The group was key to defeating legislation with similar requirements in 2006. Its national counterpart, the American Health Care Association, is also known for putting profits before residents’ health and safety. Most recently, the national trade group has blocked a federal rule that would protect consumers’ rights to hold facilities accountable for incidents of abuse and neglect.
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If you need more information on nursing home litigation contact Chris Boutwell at 800-898-2034 or by email at Chris.Boutwell@beasleyallen.com. Chris handles nursing home litigation for our firm, and he will be glad to talk with you.
Wall Street Journal