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Was Your Loved One Mistreated in a Kentucky Nursing Home?

Was Your Loved One Mistreated in a Kentucky Nursing Home?

A recently released government report names the worst nursing home in the country, 6 are in Kentucky.

In June the U.S. Senate released a report that names nursing homes with a “persistent record of poor care.” Of 15,300 nursing homes nationwide, about 3% are on the government’s Special Focus Facility (“SFF”) list. The list identifies nursing homes that “persistently underperform in required inspections conducted by state survey agencies.” The SFF program targets those facilities that “substantially fail” to meet the required care standards and resident protections afforded by the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

The facilities in Kentucky that made the list are:

  • Klondike Center, Louisville
  • Springhurst Health and Rehab, Louisville
  • River Haven Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Paducah
  • Woodcrest Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Elsemere
  • Mountain Manor of Paintsville, Paintsville
  • Twin Rivers Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Owensboro

We are currently investigating a nursing home in Florence that in our opinion also should be on the list, Bridge Point Center. Although not on the SFF program list, Medicare rates that facility “much below average.”

Even though most inspections are performed by the state, Medicare makes most of these inspections available online and without cost.

According to one inspection of a Kentucky nursing home, a “resident who suffered from a burn wound and was receiving treatment that included a skin graft did not have the dressing changed or showers administered as ordered. Upon inspection, state surveyors found the individual “lying in bed with a large amount of green drainage on dressing and a pool of green drainage on the bed sheets. The resident stated he/she was not sure the last time the dressing had been changed.”

Another Kentucky nursing home resident told an inspector that she “waited up  to an hour to get staff in here after ringing the call light.” She also said she had received a bath because the facility said they didn’t have enough help.  

According to the Lexington Herald Leader, a resident of the Woodcrest Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, a told inspectors he was “ordered to empty his bowels in bed when nobody on staff was available to take him to the bathroom. The resident cried and said this was disgusting. A nurse’s aide who often cared for him confirmed this practice to inspectors, adding that ‘the facility was short-staffed all the time.’”

The problems with nursing homes in Kentucky isn’t limited to the 7 named homes above. According to last year’s Medicare data, 43% of Kentucky nursing home facilities were rated “below average” or “much below average.” Overall, facilities Kentucky rated a “D” for staffing.

A few years ago, the Kentucky state legislature tried to pass a law requiring minimum staffing requirements. The legislation failed. To this day, Kentucky is one of the states that doesn’t mandate staffing levels.

Many of the nursing homes on the list received citations. Often these citations are for inadequate staff. In fact, if you are a resident in a Kentucky nursing home, the facility where you are living is 6 times more likely to receive a citation!

Poor Staffing, the “Canary in the Coal Mine”

When a nursing home fails to properly staff its facility, falls and bedsores are the frequent result. Many elderly or mobility challenged patients are at great risk for falls. It takes two staff members to safely move them. Often there is only one person on duty, however. This was a frequent complaint at several of the facilities, especially at night and weekends.

Turning patients and getting them up during the day is important for both the patient’s quality of life and to prevent pressure sores (bedsores). But without enough staff, many patients aren’t moved properly if at all. Some are forced to spend hours or days in dirty diapers because there is no staff to help them.

Others that shouldn’t walk unassisted try to get up when staff fails to answer call bells. Often these same residents suffer catastrophic falls as a result.

These residents are forced to make a horrible choice, get up unassisted and risk a deadly fall or soil the bed. Dirty diapers and soiled bedlinens cause simple bedsores to turn septic.

Sometimes these problems turn deadly. In 2014, a jury awarded $20 million to the family of an 84 year old man who died from neglect at the Beverly Health and Rehabilitation in Frankfort. The man, Loren Richards, had an impacted bowel and cried repeatedly for help. His cries were ignored. The reason? Poor staffing.

Has the facility learned anything? No! The Beverly Health and Rehabilitation facility closed and has now reopened under a new name and with new ownership. Today the facility is called Frankfort Rehabilitation and Care. While Medicare says it has adequate staffing, it has an overall rating of “much below average.”

Medicare says that residents in the facility have twice the national average of urinary tract infections and almost double the rate of bedsores.

Our older and disabled family members have a legal right to receive proper care while in a skilled nursing facility. They certainly deserve to live with dignity.

We find a few nursing homes, however, that consistently fail in their mission. Residents in these nursing homes often experienced neglect. They don’t receive proper nutrition, they aren’t moved, their call buttons are ignored, and sometimes they are forced to lie in their own waste. A few residents are often physically abused or die because of preventable falls or sepsis caused by untreated bedsores.

Despite some apparently terrible nursing homes, Kentucky received a grade of “C” from the Families for Better Care organization. Unfortunately, the state scored bottom in the nation on registered complaints, indicating widespread concerns from residents about their lack of quality care.

Damages in Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Cases

Obtaining compensation in a nursing home neglect case meaning proving to a judge or jury that the nursing home or its staff didn’t provide the proper care.

Damages in these cases can include pain and suffering, medical bills, and future medical expenses. The jury can award damages for any disfigurement or disability.

Punitive damages are rare but they are available in Kentucky. The law says the plaintiff (patient) must prove that the nursing home’s conduct was “intended” to cause the plaintiff to suffer “cruel and unjust hardship.” Punitive damages can also be awarded when with the conduct was carried out with a “flagrant indifference to the rights of the plaintiff and with a subjective awareness that such conduct will result in human death or bodily harm.”

The common causes of poor care are poor training, inadequate staffing, and poor hiring.

Like any other healthcare business, nursing homes must insure they have proper staffing. This includes nights, weekends and holidays.  Many states require certain staffing levels (not Kentucky, however). Even with staffing laws, nursing homes often ignored or falsify records. A common scheme is showing office staff and others not even trained or working the floor as performing patient care. The auditor sees three people on the charts yet one is 200 miles away in a corporate office and the other was on a day off.

As some nursing homes move to cut corners, we are seeing more and more facilities saving money by skimping on training or hiring workers with extensive records for abuse, theft or sexual misconduct. As the old saying goes, “You get what you pay for” and some nursing homes don’t want to pay anything.

Yet another area of liability is medication errors. Experts believe that tens of thousands of Americans die each year because of medication errors. The disabled and elderly are significantly at risk because they can’t always speak up or fear retaliation if they do.

Finally, nursing homes can be held responsible for the actions of third parties including other patients. If a nursing home knows that a particular patient is violent, they have a duty to protect other residents.

Were You or a Loved One Injured or Neglected in a Kentucky Nursing Home?

The nursing home abuse team at Mahany Law handles nursing home neglect and abuse cases nationwide. Our practice primarily centers on deaths or catastrophic injuries caused by falls, medication errors, neglect or bedsores. In other words, we take cases where serious harm resulted neglect or abuse. Harm that was preventable.

Kentucky has one of the shortest time periods in the nation for filing lawsuits. Claims for medical malpractice and personal, injury generally must be filed within just one year of the injury or death.

If you or a loved one was killed or injured in a Kentucky nursing home, don’t wait. Call us right away. Our goals is to get you the highest compensation possible and to prevent future harm.

To learn more, download our free guidebook, How to Sue a Nursing Home for Neglect or Abuse. Ready to see if you have a case? Contact us online, by email at [hidden email] or by phone at 833-201-1555. All inquiries are protected by the attorney – client privilege and kept confidential.

*Mahany Law is a national boutique law practice. In states where we do not have an attorney we partner and co-counsel with local lawyers. Brian Mahany has previously been specially admitted to the Kentucky Court and courts in 39 other states.

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