The Florida Institute for Neurologic Rehabilitation (FINR) is under fire for abusing patients recovering from traumatic brain injuries, according to Bloomberg News writer David Armstrong. Five residents have been found dead since 1998, and two of those deaths happened in the last year and a half. Nearly 500 allegations of abuse and neglect have been reported to Florida’s Department of Children in Families since 2005. Armstrong’s story said investigators have verified 36 of those claims.
He went on to enumerate several patients’ experiences in the 196-bed, 900-acre facility surrounded by snakes and alligators:
- Peter Price, 24, suffered a brain injury in a bicycle accident when he was eight. While at FINR, staff members allegedly restrained him and punched him in the face and groin. FINR’s own medical records note “blue discoloration around his left eye, one testicle larger than the other, and other discoloration on his arms and chest,” wrote Armstrong. Price eventually escaped the only way he could: by swallowing five fish hooks and 22 AA batteries. After surgery, he was transferred.
- Video that a staff member recorded shows two staff members sitting on a couch with a 21-year-old autistic patient sandwiched between them. They allegedly punched, elbowed and slapped him 30 times, according to Armstrong. When the victim moans, the staff members tell him to shut up so they can hear the TV.
- Other video footage shows a staff member “pushing [another autistic patient] away from him on a couch, standing him up, kicking his legs out from under him and leaving him curled up on the floor next to a blinking Christmas tree,” Armstrong reported.
- Four staff members killed an ex-Marine by pinning him down until he couldn’t breathe. That man’s family won a $5 million verdict in a negligence lawsuit.
- FINR settled other negligence litigation over two more resident deaths.
- One man, who went to FINR after being injured in a car accident, died when solid food lodged in his lungs. Apparently, staff members failed to note his care plan, which said he could not swallow.
Janet Clark resided at FINR from 2006 to 2007 after being injured in a car accident, according to Armstrong.
“One time they had me down and one of the staff kicked me in the eye with a boot,” she reportedly said. “They were saying shut up, screaming at me. I was hurting so much I couldn’t stop. It was terrifying.”
Clark admitted to Armstrong that she had “behavioral issues” while recovering from her brain injury. According to caregiver.org, “Personality changes, memory and judgment deficits, lack of impulse control, and poor concentration are all common” among traumatic brain injury survivors. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that number at 5.3 million and rising, since safer cars and better medicine enable them to live.
Armstrong’s article said that FINR used to bill itself as “extremely high quality to very difficult clients.” However, the facility also stated it had “zero tolerance” for resident abuse.
Apparently, times have changed.
If you suspect that a loved one is being neglected or abused, please contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to review the facts of your case. Don’t wait for your relative or friend to take matters into their own hands as Mr. Price did.