Florida law changes endanger nursing home patients, AARP says

An AARP Florida report showed legislative changes in the state's nursing home requirements reduced quality of care for residents. Meanwhile, lawmakers are considering more changes, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported March 6.

Florida's long-term care industry is asking for more government funding, immunity from wrongful death lawsuits and continued easing of staffing requirements. 

The March 6 AARP Florida report described how direct-care requirements have declined over the last decade, possibly leading to worse patient outcomes. Higher nursing staffing levels result in fewer bed sores, less catheter use and overall better care, according to Lindsay Peterson, PhD, an assistant professor at Tampa-based University of South Florida who collaborated with AARP on the report.

"This report shows the changes the Legislature undertook during the last sessions endangered patient care," Jeff Johnson, Florida director of AARP, told the Sun-Sentinel

Florida legislators are considering three bills:

  • One bill would prevent most adult children or family members from suing a facility for neglect or abuse that leads to the death of their loved one. Only offspring younger than 25 or a surviving spouse could sue under the proposal. It would also put restrictions on acceptable evidence and expert testimony.

  • The industry is proposing a bill that would allow certified nursing assistants to receive training to hand out certain medications in hopes of easing the strain on nurses.

  • An additional bill would give certified nursing assistants immunity from criminal prosecution or civil liability when carrying out directives from a facility administrator.

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