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Nursing home may face wrongful death lawsuits

When a Florida resident requires more medical or daily assistance than a family can offer, the family often chooses to place them in a skilled nursing facility. The decision for temporary or permanent residence in a nursing home for a loved one can be a difficult decision for a family, but families hope that patients will receive the best possible care. Sadly, multiple residents recently died under the care of a nursing home staff following Hurricane Irma. Some of the families may choose to file wrongful death lawsuits following the deaths. 

Hurricane Irma made landfall when outside temperatures were still very warm. The nursing home administrators determined that residents would be safer remaining in their facility instead of being transferred to other nursing homes that might have received less impact from the storm. The damage of the storm resulted in a power outage at the nursing home, and it had no electricity for the air conditioning unit. The state of Florida does not require nursing homes to have back-up generators for their air conditioning units. Despite the nursing home providing fans and small portable air conditioning units spread throughout the facility, temperatures became very hot in the facility.

The facility consisted of two floors, and during the air conditioning outage, many of the sickest residents remained on the top floor for three days before a decision was made to intervene. Most of the windows remained closed, allegedly to prevent patients from jumping out of the windows. After the home's director was notified of some of the patients deteriorating due to the heat, an order was made to transfer them to the lower floor where it was noticeably cooler. Sadly, it was too late and many suffered body temperatures of 107 degrees higher prior to their deaths.

Understandably, many of the families affected are upset that intervention for their loved ones did not occur sooner. Allegedly, the hospital across the street had working electricity and air conditioning, but the patients were not transferred. When Florida residents place their loved ones in the care of a health care facility, they trust that the best interests of their loved ones will be a top priority. When that is not the case, injury or death can occur. Families may find some comfort knowing that a wrongful death lawsuit can be explored with the help of a personal injury attorney.

Source:, "Second floor was deadliest at nursing home with no air conditioning", Erika Pesantes, Megan O'Matz, Susannah Bryan, and Paula McMahon, Oct. 6, 2017

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