Florida Nursing Home cited by Feds for Neglect

A Florida nursing home has been found by a consumer advocacy group to have “habitually violated state and federal healthcare regulations by providing inadequate, and at times negligent, care to residents at its facilities,” according to the Miami Herald.

The Herald reports that Plaza Health Network, which operates seven nursing homes in Miami-Dade County, was recently exposed by FloridaBulldog.org. The watchdog group reviewed records from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) since 2012 and uncovered 191 documented violations related to Plaza Health Network. In the same time period, Plaza Health also paid $24,820 in federal and state penalties for violations at three Florida nursing homes operated by the company.

Violations for which the company has been cited include improperly inserting a catheter and allowing a patient’s wound to fester without a doctor’s attention for more than two weeks.

Plaza Health’s board chairman Ronald Lowy has attempted to downplay the severity of the violations, saying, “I think the number of deficiencies against our buildings are much less than the industry standard.”

Federal agents with the Department of Justice began to investigate Plaza Health in 2012, after the company’s ex-chief financial officer blew the whistle on years of doctor kickbacks to referring physicians and up to $130 submitted in false physical therapy claims. This man, Steven Beaujon, stated that former Plaza Health chairman Robert Galbut was aware of such schemes and even encouraged them.

Investigations sparked by the claims of Mr. Beaujon showed that Plaza Health had also neglected patient care. One instance uncovered by AHCA investigators is the previously-mentioned improperly inserted Foley catheter. According to an administrative complaint filed at the time, “This failure to properly secure the Foley catheter to the thigh resulted in excessive tugging and injury as evidenced by bleeding from the Foley insertion site. The resident’s adult brief had a moderate amount of old blood and fresh blood.” This instance resulted in a $2,500 fine paid by Plaza Health in June 2014.

When the whistleblower litigation ended in June 2015, Plaza Health paid Beaujon $4.5 million and paid the U.S. government $17 million.

According to Medicare.gov, the average nursing home in Florida is noted for 6.2 healthcare deficiencies per year. Since 2012, Arch Plaza Rehabilitation & Nursing Center in North Miami, a Plaza Health property, has received 24 state and federal deficiencies.

When FloridaBulldog.org staff interviewed employees of Plaza Health facilities in Florida for this story, the employees suggested that poor employee morale and inadequate staffing were likely to lead to further violations and neglect.

Throughout Florida, families and residents affected by nursing home neglect and abuse know to trust our attorneys to defend their rights, ensure their safety, and hold all responsible parties fully accountable. If you believe you have been a victim of or a witness to nursing home neglect, please contact us today.

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