Group Calls for Nursing Home Reform in Kentucky

The advocacy group, Kentuckians for Nursing Home Reform, has asked the governor of Kentucky to appoint a task force into a review of <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/nursing_home_negligence">nursing home abuse and death cases and the lack of prosecution into the growing problem of nursing home abuse, wrote Kentucky.com.

Bernie Vonderheide, the group’s founder, said the request was made following a newspaper article pointing to the dearth of prosecutions in nursing home abuse crimes over a three-year span, wrote Kentucky.com, citing the Lexington Herald-Leader.

The report discussed 107 citations serious enough to lead to injury or death; seven were prosecuted at the state or local official level, said Kentucky.com. Of the 107, eight are under review by either local prosecutors or the attorney general’s Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Control, said Kentucky.com. The average pending time for the cases is about 19 months.

In Kentucky, the most serious regulatory violations are sent to the attorney general, but prosecution can only occur with local prosecutor agreement, said Kentucky.com. Meanwhile, both the governor’s office and the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, which issues citations, is looking into Vonderheide’s request.

We recently wrote that a Superior Court judge in California upheld a $29 million verdict in a nursing home abuse case. The Sacramento Bee said that the “strongly worded ruling” involved a verdict against a nursing home company related to the 2005 death of a senior patient. The judge rejected the healthcare facility’s arguments seeking a new trial or “significantly reduced damages” in a case involving a 79-year-old woman who suffered from mild dementia and died a few months later following a fall and an undiagnosed hip fracture; she died due to an infected bedsore.

The judge said the evidence presented was “overwhelming” and “devastatingly powerful” and held up the verdict and damage awards against the facility which was found to illegally under staff its sites and conduct business “based, time and again, predominantly on a concern for the bottom line” and not on sympathetic patient care, according to the presiding judge, quoted The Bee.

We’ve been following the issue of nursing home abuse for some time. Among other reports, a lawsuit was recently filed against the La Salle County Nursing Home in Illinois concerning allegations involving the same sexually abusive male resident and an array of female residents; most were receiving treatment for dementia. A Brooklyn nursing home was ordered to pay about $19 million in damages to a family whose loved one allegedly died following abject neglect. ABC World News reported that a California nursing home used chemical restraints—drugs—to silence residents. In some cases, this practice was fatal.

Yet another accusation of neglect recently made headlines when the Ridgecrest Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Florida was accused of, and investigated for, abuse. Graystone Healthcare Management owns Ridgecrest and operates 28 nursing homes in Florida, Indiana, and Ohio.

In another sad case involving nursing home abuse, a former aide was sentenced to 10 years probation for the sexual abuse of a patient at the nursing home where he had once worked, and faces up to seven years for charges brought against him by the state attorney general’s office last year.

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