Report: Fla. fails to monitor care homes

May 1, 2011 at 10:37 PM
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MIAMI, May 1 (UPI) -- The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, the agency charged with monitoring assisted-living facilities, is not doing its job, The Miami Herald says.

The newspaper reported Sunday it uncovered several instances where residents died because at poorly run facilities. One 74-year-old man died after being given a scalding bath, while a man with Alzheimer's was killed by an alligator after he wandered off.

Florida has 2,850 assisted-living facilities, set up to provide an alternative for the elderly and people with mental illness. The AHCA has failed to investigate complaints of abuse, the Herald says, or to shut down operators who mistreat residents.

Deaths from abuse and neglect average about one a month. The Herald said some operators try to cover them up, using forged documents.

Florida has stretched out its inspection schedule to every two years, the Herald said. The number of investigations of adverse incidents like accidents or deaths dropped by 90 percent between 2002 and 2008.

The Herald found 70 homes with violations serious enough to justify closure. But only seven were shut down.

In some cases, local officials used fire codes and other ordinances to close homes after state regulators failed to act.

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