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Following recent reports of an increase in nursing home abuse and neglect, state and Federal agencies may be increasing their surveilance and inspection efforts. A round of such surveys by the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration and the federal Department of Health and Human Services found widespread abuse at the Key West Convalescent Center, and led to an order for closure of the facility.

Reports called the survey results "damning," and the responsible agency stated that a "system failure jepoardized all the residents in the facility."

Nursing home abuse or neglect is a serious problem, one that is likely to grow worse as the American population ages. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of Americans 65 and older is expected to reach almost 90 million people by the year 2050.

Nursing home abuse or neglect can occur in various ways: physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and others. Signs of abuse or neglect can be obvious or subtle, including bed sores, bruises, welts and other skin damages, anxiety, agitation or emotional withdrawal, weight loss and other signs of poor nutrition or poor hydration, and many others.

Like other victims of abuse, abused nursing home residents may be reluctant to speak out, and this problem can be worsened by the potential for retaliation by the abusive staff member.

If you suspect that your loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, you should first ensure that your loved one receives prompt medical attention. You should consider contacting the State agency charged with nursing home oversight; you may want to contact a lawyer who is familiar with this area of law.

For more information about nursing home abuse and neglect, check the InjuryBoard Help Center on this topic.

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