FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 9, 2008
Contact: Eric W. Boyer, Esq.
305-670-1101 Ext. 123
QPWB ATTORNEYS OBTAIN DISMISSAL OF ADMINISTRATIVE COMPLAINT FILED BY AHCA
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A. (QPWB) trial attorneys Sheila K. Nicholson and Thomas W. Caufman, of the Tampa office, secured the dismissal of an Administrative Complaint brought by the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) against New Horizon Rehabilitation Center (New Horizon/the facility) stemming from deficiency violations.
AHCA, the agency responsible for licensing and evaluating nursing homes and for enforcing Chapter 400, Part II, Florida Statutes, as a result of a complaint survey, alleged that New Horizon had failed to report, on a timely basis, an allegation of abuse. AHCA cited the facility with a Class-I deficiency violation, assigned it a conditional licensure status, and imposed an administrative fine of $15,000. Additionally, a Class-I deficiency violation also requires the facility to pay a six-month survey fee of $6,000.
On November 4, 2006, a housekeeper at the facility reported observing inappropriate sexual behavior toward a nursing home resident by another housekeeper. The nurse who had received the information did not report the allegations until two days later; when she explained it was not reported immediately because she did not believe the allegations to be true. The facility terminated her employment for not following the facility’s policy.
On November 6, 2006, once made aware of the suspected abuse, the facility reported the incident and suspended all staff members involved in the incident, as protocol required. It immediately scheduled all employees to attend re-instruction of its in-service training program, questioned all female residents for possible abuse, notified the victim’s family members, and brought in Braille Services to assist in communication with the alleged victim, a 50-year-old, blind, deaf and mute woman who denied that anyone tried to hurt her. The AHCA surveyor arrived at the facility on November 7, 2006, to conduct the complaint investigation survey, and citied the facility with the Class-I deficiency.
The nursing home indicated that as to the Class-I Complaint, the facility was compliant with Section 400.147, Florida Statutes. The facility employed a risk manager, a staff development coordinator, and social service director, who all follow well-implemented risk management and quality assurance programs. The facility had established adequate policies and procedures to prevent abuse and require its timely reporting. The facility engaged staff with extensive and on-going training, and provides guidelines to expedite abuse-reporting.
The administrative law judge found that the facts presented by the nursing home repudiated AHCA’s allegations. Thus, the facility cannot be guilty of a Class-I deficiency since it was in compliance with Section 400.147, Florida Statues; therefore, New Horizon could not be subjected to a conditional license, or $15,000 fine for claims of widespread deficiency, or for the six-month survey fee of $6,000 which applies when the Class-I deficiency is sustained.
Administrative Law Judge Suzanne F. Hood recommended that AHCA issue a Final Order of Dismissal of the Administrative Complaint.
Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A., is a civil defense firm with a wide variety of litigation services for healthcare companies, healthcare facilities, physicians and other healthcare licensed professionals and their insurers. The firm’s Litigation Department also provides general liability defense for all businesses, insureds and insurance companies. Our practice groups and industry-based teams ensure clients have access to attorneys with the best expertise, regardless of location. QPWB maintains a tightly integrated network of six fully staffed offices throughout Florida with attorneys licensed in several states.