Kentucky Governor Orders Nursing Home Abuse Review

Earlier this month, we wrote that the advocacy group, Kentuckians for Nursing Home Reform, asked the governor of Kentucky to appoint a task force to conduct 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 maltreatment. Governor Steve Beshear just asked the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to step in, said Cincinnati Biz Journals.

The Cabinet has been asked to immediately review the way in which government handles abuse and neglect reports concerning Kentucky state nursing home residents, said Cincinnati Biz Journals. “The governor is proceeding in this manner because the seriousness of the news allegations requires a quick but thorough review and response,” said Kerri Richardson, Beshear’s spokeswoman, quoted Cincinnati Biz Journals.

Kentuckians for Nursing Home Reform’s founder, Bernie Vonderheide, said the group’s prior 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 previously, citing the Lexington Herald-Leader.

The report discussed 107 Class A citations, which indicate a problem of such severity that a resident is in jeopardy of injury or death; seven were prosecuted at the state or local official level, said Kentucky.com previously. 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. The governor’s office and the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, which issues citations, looked into Vonderheide’s request.

The citations were issued by the Cabinet; the investigation revealed issues in the system, specifically that of the 107 cases involving a death or abuse such a small amount were actually prosecuted as crimes, wrote Kentucky.com. And, this, despite that 18 involved deaths, 30 were connected to hospitalizations, five were linked to broken bones, two involved amputations that were caused by state regulation violations, and 13 involved residents who suffered injuries due to a lapse in care by staff, noted Kentucky.com.

The governor asked the Secretary of the Cabinet, Janie Miller, to look at the efficacy of coordination “efforts among state agencies… local prosecutors, and law enforcement,” as well as into the delays surrounding the very serious citations, which were sent to local law enforcement or the attorney general’s office, said Kentucky.com. “The abuse of any nursing home resident is unacceptable and we must make sure that we are fulfilling our responsibilities to those residents,” Beshear said in a letter to Miller, quoted Kentucky.com.

Beshear asked Miller for completion of the review by September 1 and also asked that “Attorney General Jack Conway, the U.S. Attorneys for the Eastern and Western Districts, local prosecutors, law enforcement, industry groups and advocacy groups, specifically” Kentuckians for Nursing Home Reform be involved in “a thorough review of how the Cabinet works with the rest of state government to protect nursing home residents and whether we have opportunities to improve going forward,” according to the letter, quoted Kentucky.com.

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