Nursing home abuse is fast becoming a national crisis. In states, such as Kentucky, where many elder care facilities rank low for failing to maintain the standard of care, it has assumed a greater proportion. However, many facilities fail to report incidents and ensure adequate mechanism to prevent its recurrence.
In September 2014, a Kentucky jury indicated three employees of a state-based facility on “72 instances of criminal neglect and abuse of residents between August 2013 and February 2014.” However, these actions went unreported until the daughter of a resident informed the Kentucky Office of the Inspector General after discovering bruises on her mother’s arms.
An 82-year-old woman, one of the victims, has filed an abuse lawsuit seeking damages from Genesis Healthcare, the owner and operator of the KY nursing home. The plaintiff suffered from “physical and mental abuse causing injuries, pain, suffering, extreme anguish and distress in negligence, violation of Kentucky Residents’ Rights Statute, medical negligence, corporate negligence and seeks punitive sanctions against administrator Carolyn Torrence,” claims the nursing home abuse attorney representing the litigation in a Kentucky court.
Federal Report on Nursing Home Abuse Reporting
The Office of Inspector General, US Department of Health and Human Services, published a report in August 2014 highlighting failure of nursing homes in reporting all elder abuse incidents taking place in their premises. Entitled “Nursing Facilities’ Compliance with Federal Regulations for Reporting Allegations of Abuse or Neglect,” the report pointed out that “only 53% nursing home abuse incidents were reported correctly.”
Based on 150,000 such events reported in 2012 involving 85% of nation’s elder care centers, it found that almost half of these nursing home abuse and negligence were not reported by these facilities. The OIG found that “nation’s nursing homes are underreporting or reporting, but failing to report pursuant to federal standards; and/or inadequately investigating when reports are made.” While 40% of these homes “failed to maintain documentation supporting compliance with the reporting requirements,” about a third had no “appropriate policies and procedures for reporting allegations and investigation results.”
The report categorized abuse and neglect events in to five types. The first four include abuse, negligence, mistreatment, and property fraud reported while the last category is defined as “injuries of unknown source,” which is almost a fifth of total complaints and second only to abuse reports. This unexplained physical injury category raises many questions – whether it is abuse or self-inflicted injury due to negligence. Unless properly investigated or reported, these 20% injuries remain hidden and unpreventable and perpetrators may go unpunished.
The findings led the OIG to ask the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to direct all care facilities to comply “its guidance that all allegations of abuse or neglect must be reported to the State survey agency, as required by Federal law.” It even recommended strict direction to nursing homes to “report any and all allegations of abuse and neglect to ensure resident safety.”
Though the problem has significant ramifications perpetrated by inaction of owners, operators, and staff and families of residents, the findings were not new. A report entitled “Nursing Homes: More Can Be Done To Protect Residents” cited similar problems in 2002. Compiled by the US Government Accounting Office from the data supplied by state survey agencies, it highlighted rampant underreporting or delayed reporting of abuse compromising “the quality of available evidence and hinder investigations.”
Nursing Home Abuse in Kentucky
With the state ranked 43 in the national directory and its elder care facilities are listed in the “high risk category for failing standard of care,” there is high possibility of nursing home abuse in Kentucky. In the last one year, at least 900 negligence and abuse complaints have been found to be true following investigations. According to a federal investigation report published in July 2014, one in every three nursing home residents in the country becomes subject of physical, sexual, medical, and verbal abuse. Over 90% of these facilities struggle to provide care in the absence adequate trained staff.
Complaints over nursing home abuse in Kentucky have witnessed 58% growth in 2013, according to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. If you have reasons to believe that a resident is subject to abuse at a nursing home in Louisville, Kentucky, or any other city in Kentucky, please contact us or call on 1-866-447-0150 to discuss the best course of action.