Kentucky Nursing Home Abuse
Since healthy, active people have no need for nursing home care, it’s a fact of life that people in nursing homes tend to be neither healthy nor active. They also tend to be more socially isolated than the general population, all of which makes nursing home residents a very vulnerable population.
Ownership of nursing homes, on the other hand, is increasingly concentrated. There are many large—very large—companies that own large numbers of nursing homes. It’s not an exaggeration to refer to long term nursing care these days as an industry dominated by large corporations who provide care as their product. This product is sold to the residents themselves, the families of residents, and both state and federal governments that provide much of the money to pay for it.
As in any industry, profits rise as costs fall. It is quite tempting for the owners of nursing homes to adopt policies and practices that look as much or more to the bottom line on the profit and loss statement as they do to the needs and interests of the residents. Unfortunately, the residents rarely know what all the policies are, and usually are in no position to really object if they find them out.
As the frequent news reports of abuse and neglect of nursing home residents clearly attest, too many of these facilities operate with too few staff, train the staff poorly, pay them poorly, and fail to adequately screen applicants to identify people who may be a danger to the residents. Kentucky has more than its share of nursing home abuse and neglect. In fact, Kentucky has a history of ranking poorly on studies of nursing home resident abuse and related litigation over injuries and death.
Laws Protecting Kentucky Nursing Home Residents
For all intents and purposes, Kentucky nursing home residents are protected by both state and federal laws. Kentucky has a specific statute that establishes the basic standard of care to which residents are entitled. In essence, every resident of a Kentucky nursing home is entitled to the services required for the resident to achieve the “highest physical and mental functional status.”
The statute also bestows many specific rights on residents and requires that residents be informed of those rights. Among them is the right of the resident, the resident’s guardian, or the resident’s next of kin to be consulted when:
- Any accident occurs that results in an injury to the resident
- There is any change in the medical or physical status of the resident
- Any significant change in treatment in made
- A decision has been made to have the resident discharged or transferred to a different institution
There are exceptions for immediate resident consultation for medical emergencies and residents who are incompetent. In addition to the resident being consulted, these events require notification within 24 hours to the resident’s physician and the resident’s family or legal representative.
All Kentucky nursing homes that receive funds from the Medicare or Medicaid programs are also subject to Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA), which sets its own standards for care and bestows various rights on residents.
Establishing that the nursing home violated the terms of the state law, federal law, or both does not by itself support a lawsuit or establish the liability of the nursing home for a resident’s injuries. Any violations can, however, be used to help establish that the facility was negligent.
Common Forms of Abuse and Neglect
Nursing home residents are virtually at the mercy of the facility’s staff. Residents rely on staff for everything from food to preventive care to therapy to basic efforts to keep up their spirits. Accordingly, the types of abuse and neglect they may suffer are almost without limit. Among the most common types are:
- Bed sores from failure of the staff to adequately monitor the residents’ skin and take steps to move the residents frequently enough to prevent them
- Malnutrition and/or dehydration; staff sometimes provide inadequate food and water, and residents sometimes resist or even forget to eat and drink; it is the staff’s responsibility to monitor intake and changes in weight, etc.
- Physical abuse, including sexual abuse, by staff or other residents: it is the facility’s responsibility to hire reliable staff, to monitor those it does hire, and to prevent violence from other residents.
- The effects of various medication errors: errors range from giving the wrong medication, to giving the wrong amount of the right medication, and to not giving the medication at all.
Get Skilled Legal Representation in Kentucky
Nursing home abuse cases face tough resistance from the array of lawyers that the corporate owners set up to oppose you. You need lawyers equal to the task of standing up for you and your rights. At the Lowder & McGill law firm in Bowling Green, we are aggressive in pursuing your rights. The time we put in is determined by how much time is needed to succeed in holding the nursing home responsible for its wrongdoing.
Our persistence, dedication, and focus give you the best chance for success. Call Lowder & McGill today and arrange a free consultation with an experienced nursing home abuse attorney. Once we get the details we need to fully understand what happened, we can start the process of obtaining recovery through a fair settlement when possible, or through a trial and jury verdict when necessary. There is no fee unless we succeed.