New Florida Law Seeks To Catch Elder Abusers

“Elder death review teams” in each of Florida’s 20 judicial circuits will be empowered to review cases where abuse or neglect has been found to be related to, or the cause of, an elderly person’s death. File photo.

Naples Daily News – The Florida Senate on Thursday unanimously passed a bill that would allow teams of experts to review deaths of the elderly when abuse or neglect is suspected, and to propose policy changes to prevent future deaths.

Senate Bill 452 passed with no debate. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, did not receive any serious pushback in any of its previous committee stops this legislative session.

The elder death review teams “will be looking for any gaps in services or deficiencies that they want the Legislature and the governor to know about,” Gibson said while introducing the proposal on the Senate floor.

A companion bill in the House sponsored by Rep. Barbara Watson, D-Miami Gardens, passed its first committee hearing last month, but has since stalled. The session is scheduled to end next week.

Elder advocates say establishing elder death review teams in Florida could help cut down on the number of cases of nursing home neglect and mistreatment like those identified in a recent USA TODAY NETWORK – FLORIDA investigation.

As part of its investigation, the network reviewed 54 nursing home deaths in which state inspectors cited neglect and mistreatment as factors from 2013 through 2017.

The investigation found Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration rarely took action and often didn’t investigate the deaths at all.

The network’s nursing homes series also showed that AHCA rarely takes serious action against poor-performing nursing homes, and it has allowed dozens of Florida nursing homes to limp along for years providing substandard care and abusing, neglecting and even killing patients with little consequence.

Gibson’s bill would allow, but not mandate, the creation of elder death review teams in each of Florida’s 20 judicial circuits.

The teams would review cases in their judicial circuit where abuse or neglect has been found to be related to, or the cause of, an elderly person’s death … Read more.