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Who Is Responsible For Nursing Home Safety

February 24, 2014 | Category: Nursing Home Neglect/Abuse | Share

The fire January 23, 2014 in a Quebec, Canada nursing home where 35 people are missing and feared dead , is a wake-up call for all of us. Although an investigation is underway, it is reported by Bloomberg Business Week that the facility only had a sprinkling system in part of the building.

In northern Ohio 63 people died as a result of a nursing home fire in November, 2013. It is reported that this fire was one of the worst of its kind in U.S. history.  Some of the deaths were the result of doorways being too narrow for wheelchairs.  In addition, investigators found that the fire was caused by faulty wiring and that the nursing home had no evacuation plan in place.

Because of a series of nursing home fires in the '60s and '70s stricter laws went into effect for nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Even so, USA Today reported that health experts and regulators warned in 2013 that many nursing homes are ill-prepared for natural disasters after examining responses to Super Storm Sandy and Hurricane Katrina.

Federal officials have listed more than 900 U.S. nursing homes as not fully complying with the regulation of having automatic fire sprinklers in every patient area by the deadline of August 2013.  In November, 2013, the CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) sent a message to state officials regarding compliance with the sprinkler rule which required that the long-term care industry install sprinkler systems in more than 16,000 nursing homes in the U.S.

Who is responsible for safety in nursing homes - Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A.Lee County Personal Injury Attorney, Randall Spivey recommends, "Relatives, friends, and/or visitors to nursing homes and assisted living facilities take the opportunity when visiting to look around for and ask questions about sprinkler systems, wiring and other systems, doorway accessibility, and evacuation plans."

  • Sprinkler systems - Are there sprinklers? Do they work? Are they maintained and inspected on a regular basis?  Are these inspections and their findings recorded and available for public inspection?
  • Wiring and other systems - Are the wiring, and other systems, inspected for wear and possible fire potential? If so, who does the inspection, how often and are the records available for public view.
  • Doorways - Are doorways large enough to allow residents the freedom to pass through safely.
  • Evacuation plans - In case of an emergency, is there an evacuation plan.  Is the reviewed and updated on a scheduled basis?  Are the staff and residents aware of the plan and know what to do should an emergency occur?

Fort Myers Accident Attorney, Randall L. Spivey is a Board Certified Trial Attorney – the highest recognition for competence bestowed by the Florida Bar and a distinction earned by just one (1%) percent of Florida attorneys.  He has handled over 2,000 personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout Florida.  For a free and confidential consultation to discuss your legal rights, contact the Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A., in Lee County at 239.337.7483 or toll free at 1.888.477.4839,or by email to  Visit for more information.  You can contact Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, Charlotte County at 941.764.7748 and in Collier County 239.793.7748.

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