Articles Posted in Nursing Home Neglect

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Kentucky ranked poorly in a recent nursing home survey conducted by a Florida advocacy group called Families for Better Care. The group graded the states based on their nursing home care. Kentucky was ranked 40th nationally and received a “D” due in part to the fact that 20 percent of Kentucky nursing homes were considered severely deficient. These deficient nursing homes have been cited for neglect, mistreatment and widespread abuse.

The survey further indicated that the Southeast was the lowest-ranked region in terms of its nursing homes, with Kentucky being the lowest ranked state within the region.
Sadly, instances of abuse occur far too frequently in Kentucky. Because of the defenseless nature of many nursing home residents, Kentucky has created statutes designed to protect them from abuse and neglect. Per these statutes, other than in exceptional and justifiable situations, nursing home residents cannot be subject to any type of mental and/or physical abuse and cannot be chemically or physically restrained.

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The woman accused of abusing an 89-year-old nursing home patient has been convicted of patient abuse and mistreatment of an impaired adult. According to reports, Anne Nunemann, an employee of a Seaford, Delaware nursing home, covered the head of a patient suffering from dementia with a plastic trash bag. Fortunately, the patient was not injured.

Nunemann was subsequently terminated from her job and per the conviction, she may not work in any type of nursing home facility for a six month period.

Although this case of abuse did not occur locally, such instances of abuse do sadly occur in Kentucky. Because of the defenseless nature of many nursing home residents, Kentucky has created statutes designed to protect them from abuse and neglect. Per these statutes, other than in exceptional and justifiable situations, nursing home residents cannot be subject to any type of mental and/or physical abuse and cannot be chemically or physically restrained.

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A second Oakwood Manor employee has been arrested in connection with allegations of neglect. Oakwood Manor, located in Somerset, Kentucky, provides care to developmentally disabled adults. Cody Burton, 21, has been charged with two counts of violating KRS 209.990(2) by knowingly neglecting a vulnerable adult, and one count of violating KRS 209.030(2), by failing to report the neglect of a vulnerable adult.

Earlier this month, Coty King, another employee of Oakwood Manor, was arrested on charges relating to his role in luring one developmentally disabled patient to assault another developmentally disabled patient and video recording the assault.

After becoming aware of the incident, Oakwood Manor personnel reported it to the Office of the Attorney General. The OAG then assigned the Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Control Division and the Department of Criminal Investigations to investigate the matter.

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A hidden video camera planted by the family of a nursing home patient revealed disturbing staff abuse. According to the family of the 97 year-old woman, they suspected she was being abused after finding bruising on her body.

The video, shot in a Texas nursing home, showed staff rip the skin off of an elderly woman who was unable to speak when she was roughly pushed through a narrow door frame in a wheelchair. After the injury was discovered, the staff merely put a sweater on the woman and placed her in a day room.

Although this case of abuse did not occur locally, such instances of abuse do sadly occur in Kentucky. Because of the defenseless nature of many nursing home residents, Kentucky has created statutes designed to protect them from abuse and neglect. Per these statutes, other than in exceptional and justifiable situations, nursing home residents cannot be subject to any type of mental and/or physical abuse and cannot be chemically or physically restrained.

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As record profits for nursing homes and their CEO salaries spiral upward, Kentucky’s nursing home industry is once again in Frankfort lobbying for legislation that would limit accountability for nursing homes that abuse and neglect our loved ones.

On February 6, I arrived in Frankfort with representatives of the AARP and other groups that advocate for nursing home residents to testify in opposition to Senate Bill 9. Senate Bill 9 bill proposes to increase the size of our government by creating medical review panels for nursing home cases and, as a result, burden nursing home residents with higher costs and a biased venue. There is no question that the bill is another attempt on the part of the nursing home industry to avoid accountability for providing substandard care and endangering our loved ones.

After sitting through more than an hour of blatantly false testimony from the bill’s proponents, you can imagine our shock when the bill’s sponsor, Senator Julie Denton of Louisville, denied us the right to speak until after Senate Bill 9 was voted out of committee (on party lines) and most of the committee members had left the room. When the bill hit the Senate floor the following week, Denton refused to take questions from fellow Senators about the bill or about the amount of campaign contributions she had received from the nursing home industry.

The number of Americans in nursing homes and assisted care facilities continues to grow, and the number of elderly Kentucky residents living in nursing homes mirrors this national trend.

There are some very fine nursing homes in Kentucky. However, unfortunately, many residents of Kentucky nursing homes are, quite simply, in jeopardy, because of poorly-managed and/or under-staffed homes run by nursing home corporations that place profit over the well-being of their elderly residents.

Fortunately, there are people who care about this problem and are willing to do something about it. The attorney authoring this post, Vanessa Cantley, is one example [reach Vanessa here]. Another is the online watch-dog, Member of the Family (www.memberofthefamily.net).

Recently, members of Kentucky’s House of Representatives have proposed House Bill 361, a bill meant to force those injured and harmed by the neglect of nursing home operators out of court and in front of “review panels” to determine whether they are permitted to go to court and seek compensation for their harms. This strategy of adding additional barriers to the courthouse is one that has been successfully implemented by many states by so-called proponents of “tort reform.” Supporters claim it reduces frivolous lawsuits and protects doctors, nursing homes, hospitals, and other health care providers. It does not. I acts as a bar to the constitutional right that injured people have to seek compensation through the court system in front of a jury of their peers. Instead it takes that fundamental right to the jury process and puts it in the hands of a review panel comprised of the very kinds of people who injured you in the first place.

Bahe Cook Cantley & Nefzger PLC is opposed to HB 361. We ask that you help us fight this attempt to block access to the court and jury system by calling your legislator and telling them that you are opposed!

Arbitration clauses have become increasingly common in recent years. It is quite possible that your cell phone carrier, bank, and even employer have you sign agreements that contain mandatory, binding arbitration clauses. These clauses force the consumer to give up their right to a jury trial and to have all disputes sent before an arbitrator of the company’s choosing.

Increasingly arbitration clauses are being included in nursing home contracts that require patients or loved ones to agree to arbitration for any and all harms that occur while they are in the nursing home. The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals recently reviewed several cases that all involved nursing homes that allegedly caused the death of a nursing home resident. In each case, a representative for the resident had signed an agreement at admission that contained a clause stating that any disputes arising from negligent treatment by the nursing home would be submitted to arbitration.

The Court held that the West Virginia Legislature intended for the right to a civil action in court to be unwaivable for nursing home residents. The Court went on to say that many of the arbitration clauses at issue were “unconscionable and unenforceable” as a matter of law. The Court’s holding also pointed out that arbitrations allow nursing homes to keep their negligence and violations out of the public eye. Hopefully, other courts will follow suit and hold arbitration clauses in the nursing home setting unenforceable.

Out of 109 nursing homes in Kentucky checked by state inspectors during the third quarter of last year, 18 percent – 20 nursing homes — had 10 or more deficiencies.

The data — obtained through an Open Records Request by the statewide advocacy group, Kentuckians for Nursing Home Reform — is the latest information available at this time on nursing home inspections in Kentucky.

Routine inspections of nursing homes are made about once a year. According to a federal Web site, the average number of deficiencies for nursing homes in Kentucky is six. This latest report showed that 42 nursing homes in the state had more than six deficiencies.

A Paintsville nursing home has been cited in connection with the death one of one of it’s residents.

Mountain Manor nursing home in Paintsville was slapped with a type A citation, the state’s highest citation, by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services’ Office of the Inspector General, after a resident at the facility died following a fall.

This citation indicates that a resident’s life or safety had been endangered because of violations of state regulations.