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Nursing home negligence or consequences of natural disaster?

Many Wyoming residents closely followed headline news regarding Hurricane Irma. Irma hit the southeast coast of the United States not long after a similar storm raged through the southwest. During Irma, 12 patients died in an assisted living facility, and prosecutors say nursing home negligence was the cause.

In their opening arguments at a licensing hearing, plaintiff attorneys adamantly stated that the nursing home where the patients died should be shut down. In the midst of chaos caused by the hurricane, the facility's air conditioning system stopped working. Three patients were later found deceased in their beds while nine others later died of complications due to extreme heat exposure.

Officials say rescue workers reported the body temperature of one patient in excess of 108 degrees Fahrenheit. One rescuer said it likely could have been higher, but the device to measure body temperature only goes so high. The nursing home claims its staff members did everything they could to prepare for loss of air conditioning during the storm.

Nursing home officials say workers not only obtained portable fans and spot coolers, but repeatedly attempted to contact the governor of Florida to seek emergency assistance. A mass evacuation of the facility was eventually ordered; however, at least 11 of the 12 decedents had already suffered serious decline by then. A medical examiner has ruled all 12 deaths homicides; a criminal investigation remains ongoing at this time. This situation is no doubt rare; however, many Wyoming residents suspect nursing home negligence as the cause of death or injury for their loved ones, in which case they have every right to pursue justice by seeking support from experienced medical malpractice attorneys.

Source: local10.com, "Hearing to determine whether nursing home will lose license after deaths", Erica Rakow, Terrell Forney, Jan. 29, 2018

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