Florida shutters nursing home after finding staff later edited overheated patients' medical records to reflect safe vitals

Florida suspended the license of the Hollywood Hills nursing home that lost air conditioning after Hurricane Irma, which resulted in the deaths of nine residents, after finding staff retrospectively edited residents' medical records to inaccurately reflect safe vitals and conditions.

The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration issued an emergency suspension order on the Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills' license Wednesday. The facility is not permitted to operate as a nursing home or admit patients and it is completely terminated from the Medicaid program. This action follows the temporary ban on admissions the state enacted Sept. 13.

After launching an investigation of the facility and resident deaths Sept. 13, the state agency found staff made several entries in deceased patients' medical records hours after they received care at the facility. Some late entries were made after patients had already died or were receiving medical attention at Memorial Regional Hospital, across the street.

For example, a late entry in one 84-year-old patient's record documents the patient as resting in bed with unlabored and even respiration, yet the patient had died before the entry was made. Another late entry records a patient's temperature at 101.6 degrees Fahrenheit, even though the patient was no longer in the facility but dying at the local hospital with a temperature of 108.3 degrees Fahrenheit.

"This facility failed its residents multiple times throughout this horrifying ordeal," said Agency Secretary Justin Senior. "It is unfathomable that a medical professional would not know to call 911 immediately in an emergency situation. The facility also entered late entries into medical records claiming safe temperatures for patients while those same patients were across the street dying in the emergency room with temperatures of over 108 degrees Fahrenheit. No amount of emergency preparedness could have prevented the gross medical and criminal recklessness that occurred at this facility."

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