In the Courts: In Case Involving Hurricane-Related Deaths, Florida Appeals Court Allows Licensure Suspension to Stand

June 29, 2018 | Aging Services Risk, Quality, & Safety Guidance

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Consolidating challenges to three emergency orders against the Florida nursing home where several residents died during Hurricane Irma in 2017, the Florida court of appeal for the first district has affirmed suspension of the facility's participation in Medicaid and denied the facility's petitions to review the immediate moratorium on admissions and the suspension of its operating license.

During the hurricane, the facility's air-conditioning system lost power. According to the emergency orders, the facility contacted the electrical provider and placed fans and portable air coolers throughout the facility. Three days after the air-conditioning went out, several residents experienced cardiac or respiratory distress. The police and fire departments responded to a call; three residents had already died, and several others needed immediate transport for medical care. Four residents died at the hospital, each with body temperatures of 107°F or higher. Facility staff made late entries for these residents indicating body temperatures near normal, sometimes just before or even after the much higher body temperature was recorded by the hospital. Rescue units evacuated all...

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