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Elderly Florida Nursing Home Resident’s Smothering Death During Fight with Other Resident May Have Been Caused by Nursing Home Neglect

In Florida, the Department of Children and Families is investigating whether the smothering death of Chrisanto Beltran, a 72-year-old male resident at a Southwest Florida nursing home may have been partially caused by nursing home neglect. Beltran died at the Hidden Oaks Retirement Center last January during an altercation with another resident, 87-year-old Kenneth Knauf. The two men were both Alzheimer’s patients. According to police, they were fighting over a blanket. While the medical examiner determined that Beltran’s cause of death was asphyxiation by smothering, questions are being raised as to whether inadequate patient supervision contributed to the elderly man’s death. According to the Department of Children and Family’s local spokesperson, one of the patients was supposed to be supervised every 15 minutes. Not only must US nursing homes make sure that they provide each resident with the proper medical care and attention that they need, but nursing workers are responsible for making sure that patients are not a danger to themselves or others. This may mean providing additional supervision, as well as separating certain patients from the rest of the resident population. When failure to execute these responsibilities leads to injury or death, the Florida nursing home can be held liable for nursing home neglect or wrongful death. Unfortunately, the deadly incident involving Beltran and Knauf is not that uncommon, especially as findings indicate that there are more mentally ill patients living in US nursing homes today than there were several years ago. Elderly patients are particularly at risk of getting hurt when they are around younger, stronger residents that may not be aware of what they are doing and cannot be held responsible for their actions. Examples: • In 2003, a 23-year-old mentally ill nursing home resident was accused of starting a fire that caused the deaths of 16 other patients. She was found incompetent to stand trial. • In 2006, a 77-year-old male nursing home resident died after his roommate, 62, allegedly beat him with a bathroom towel bar. He too was found incompetent to stand trial. Related Web Resources: Nursing Home Compare, Medicare.gov Please contact our Florida wrongful death attorneys to discuss your nursing home neglect or abuse case.

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