Florida Senate Bill 452, if signed into law, authorizes the establishment of elder abuse fatality review teams, composed of volunteer members, in each of the 20 judicial circuits in Florida. The teams would review closed cases of fatal incidents of elder abuse and make policy and other recommendations to help prevent future incidents of elder abuse-related fatalities (i.e., Florida nursing home abuse deaths).
The review teams would be assigned to the Department of Elder Affairs (DOEA) for administrative purposes only. The DOEA would be required to submit a report, annually by November 1, that summarizes the findings and recommendations of the review teams to the Governor, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the Department of Children and Families.
Under the proposed law, the state attorney, or his or her designee, in each judicial circuit may initiate a review team and call for the team’s organizational meeting. At that initial meeting the members would choose two co-chairs who would establish a schedule for future meetings. The review team must meet at least once during each fiscal year.
Each team would determine how it operates and selects cases. The cases, however, must be limited to closed cases in which an elderly person’s death is found to have been caused by or related to abuse or neglect in order to avoid interference with an ongoing criminal investigation or prosecution. All information that would identify the person must be redacted in the documents that the team would review.
The elder abuse fatality team must:
Review deaths of elderly people in its judicial circuit that were found to have been caused by, or related to, abuse or neglect;
Consider events leading up to the fatal incident, available resources, current law and policies, and the actions taken by systems and individuals related to the fatal incident;
Identify potential gaps and deficiencies in the delivery of services by agencies which may be related to the deaths;
Develop communitywide approaches to address causes and contributing factors related to deaths reviewed by the team; and
Develop recommendations and possible changes in law and policies to support the care for the elderly and prevent elder abuse deaths.
Team members are prohibited from directly contacting someone in the deceased person’s family as part of the review unless the team member is authorized to do so in the course of his or her employment duties. However, nothing in the proposed law prohibits a family member from voluntarily providing information or records to the review team.
Each team is required to submit its findings and recommendations to the DOEA annually by September 1. The report may include descriptive statistics, current policies that contribute to the incidence of elder abuse and deaths with recommendation for improvements, and any other recommendations to prevent deaths from elder abuse or neglect. By November 1 of each year, the DOEA must prepare a summary report of the information provided by the review teams, and submit the report to the Executive Office of the Governor, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the Department of Children and Families.
If you or a loved one suffered harm while a resident of a nursing home in Florida or in another U.S. state due to nursing home abuse, nursing home neglect, nursing home negligence, or the failure to provide appropiate care for a vulnerable adult, you should promptly find a nursing home claim lawyer in Florida or in your state who may investigate your nursing home claim for you and file a nursing home claim on your behalf or behalf of your loved one, if appropriate.
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