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Who is responsible to decide if an assisted living facility can properly take care of a resident?

Answer: A frequent cause of injury to assisted living facility residents is the facility’s failure to transfer a resident to another healthcare provider that can provide appropriate care for the resident’s condition. Some people are simply too sick or frail to be in an assisted living facility. They need a higher level of care that can be provided only by a hospital or skilled nursing facility. For example, if a resident is at a very high risk to fall, an assisted living facility will likely not have sufficient staff to properly supervise the resident to prevent a fall. Assisted living facilities are simply not designed to provide close supervision of its residents. Very serious and sometimes life-threatening injuries result when the elderly fall. Examples include traumatic brain injury and broken hips.

It is crucial then that an assisted living facility accepts and continues to care only for residents who are appropriate for the level of care that can be provided. The Florida legislature has recognized this and requires that an assisted living facility obtain a medical evaluation from a doctor for all its residents. The law requires the facility administrator to use the evaluation as a part of the decision to admit a resident in the first place. The administrator is legally required to make the decision. Here is what the law says:

The owner or administrator of a facility is responsible for determining the appropriateness of admission of an individual to the facility and for determining the continued appropriateness of residence of an individual in the facility.

In lawsuits against assisted living facilities, the defendant almost always tries to blame somebody else for the resident’s injury. Defendants sometimes claim that the family should have chosen another facility or should have transferred the resident. However, the law clearly recognizes that it is the administrator of the facility who has the expertise in knowing whether the facility has the appropriate resources to properly care for the resident. Thus, it is the owner or administrator, not the family, who is legally responsible to decide if an assisted living facility can properly care for a resident.

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