St. Petersburg Times Online: News of Florida
Place an Ad Calendars Classified Forums Sports Weather
  • Butterworth asks for fuel law repeal
  • On the air, but under fire
  • Overhaul plan hinders Fla. universities
  • Around the state
  • Bill may protect dam many want destroyed
  • Report: Nursing home suits, staffing linked

  • From the state wire

  • Hurricane Jeanne appears on track to hit Florida's east coast
  • Rumor mill working overtime after Florida hurricanes
  • Developments associated with Hurricanes Ivan and Jeanne
  • Four killed in Panhandle plane crash were on Ivan charity mission
  • Hurricane Frances caused estimated $4.4 billion in insured damage
  • Disabled want more handicapped-accessible voting machines
  • USF forces administrators to resign over test score changes
  • Man's death at Universal Studios ruled accidental
  • State child welfare workers in Miami fail to do background checks
  • Hurricane Jeanne heads toward southeast U.S. coast
  • Hurricane Jeanne spurs more anxiety for storm-weary Floridians
  • Mistrial declared in case where teen was target of racial "joke"
  • Panhandle utility wants sewer plant moved to higher ground
  • State employee arrested on theft, bribery charges
  • Homestead house fire kills four children, one adult
  • Pierson leader tries to cut off relief to local fern cutters
  • Florida's high court rules Terri's law unconstitutional
  • Jacksonville students punished for putting stripper pole in dorm
  • FEMA handling nearly 600,000 applications for help
  • Man who killed wife, niece, self also killed mother in 1971
  • Producer sues city over lead ball fired by Miami police
  • Tourism suffers across Florida after pummeling by hurricanes
  • Key dates in the life of Terri Schiavo
  • An excerpt from the unanimous ruling in the Schiavo case
  • Four confirmed dead after small plane crash in Panhandle
  • Correction: Disney-Cruise Line story

    printer version

    Report: Nursing home suits, staffing linked

    The study was done by an economist hired by the Tampa law firm of Wilkes & McHugh.


    © St. Petersburg Times, published March 27, 2001

    TALLAHASSEE -- Restricting lawsuits against nursing homes won't cure the ills facing the industry, nor will it lure insurers back to Florida, an economist warned Monday.

    Hank Fishkind, who has supported limits on lawsuits against other types of companies, said the economic, regulatory and quality-of-care issues facing the nursing home industry require a solution more comprehensive than limiting lawsuits.

    Fishkind was hired by the Tampa law firm of Wilkes & McHugh, considered a pioneer in litigation against nursing homes, and paid $10,000 for the analysis of the rising nursing home liability insurance rates.

    The economist's conclusion: Lawsuits against nursing homes are linked to staffing levels and the number of state citations against the homes.

    Those problems can be traced to the mid 1990s when the government adjusted its reimbursement rates for nursing home care, Fishkind said. He said that led to financial strain and staffing cuts, particularly in large, for-profit nursing homes.

    "I think it's unrealistic to think we are going to solve all these problems in Florida simply by manipulating tort reform," said Fishkind, a member of Gov. Jeb Bush's Council of Economic Advisers.

    "Based on my study of available data," he said, "this problem is driven first and foremost by a problem in the delivery of care, and that is driving the tort climate, not the other way around."

    Fishkind supported lawsuit reform in 1999, when the Legislature passed a bill limiting lawsuits against some businesses. But he said he doesn't support it for nursing homes because they are part of a heavily regulated industry with little competition.

    Representatives of the Florida Health Care Association attacked the study. They said it did nothing to address the quality of care that is most important to nursing home residents.

    "Florida's elder care system is sinking in a quagmire of lawsuits, and Florida seniors will be better served by keeping scarce resources within the system to improve quality of care," said association spokeswoman Kym Spell.

    "We have a plan to change the status quo -- the trial lawyers profit from the status quo," she added.

    The Florida Health Care Association has spent the last week promoting its new quality care program around the state.

    Nursing homes that want to remain members of the association must sign a pledge to improve care in their facilities. Homes that refuse to adhere to the quality guidelines will not be allowed to renew their membership.

    Back to State news
    Back to Top

    © 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
    490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111
    Special Links
    Lucy Morgan

    From the Times state desk