legal resources necessary to hold negligent facilities accountable.
Nursing Homes in Kentucky
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), there are 279 nursing homes in Kentucky. Of the skilled nursing facilities, 135 (48%) rank at or above the national average in quality care.
However, 144 (52%) nursing homes in Kentucky rank below average or much below average for residents receiving nursing care. Poor levels of health care are far below the Medicaid and Medicare standards for quality.
Kentucky nursing homes often hire people not qualified to work in them. They may not train their staff properly, so they can't do their jobs correctly in the care they provide nursing home residents. A residential care facility can also be negligent if it doesn't enforce policies and procedures based on best care practices. In other instances, a patient may die because of a mistake made by a nurse or caregiver.
What is Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect?
Neglect occurs when nurses in nursing homes fail to provide the minimum medical attention required by law. Abuse happens when someone intentionally hurts another person. Abuse includes:
- Physical or psychological harm
- Emotional manipulation
- Sexual coercion
- Threats and intimidation
- Control through fear
There are still many abuse cases in Kentucky nursing homes, long-term care intermediate care facilities, independent living communities, and rehabilitation centers. These are just some of the most common ones.
Below is a small sample of the abuse and neglect occurring in the state's nursing homes, according to CMS and the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
Failure to Report and Investigate Any Act or Reports of Abuse, Neglect, or Mistreatment
When a complaint has been made against a care provider, the caregiver must immediately complete an investigation into the allegations. Failure to comply with these requirements may result in penalties, including fines and license revocation.
- Failed to protect residents from physical, sexual, and verbal abuse for five residents where one resident knocked down two other patients, and one suffered a femur fracture. (Chautauqua Health and Rehabilitation)
- Failure to protect residents from neglect by failing to provide necessary goods and services after the staff failed to immediately return the resident to the hospital due to unrelieved abdominal pain who was then diagnosed with bilateral pleural effusions and shortness of breath. (Clifton Oaks Care and Rehabilitation Center)
- Failure to have an effective system to ensure three residents were free from abuse and a Licensed Practical Nurse yelled and hit one resident while yelling, taunting, and pulling another resident's hair and yelling, hitting, and scolding the third resident. (Creekwood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center)
- Failure to have an effective system to ensure residents were free from abuse after one resident with a history of sexually inappropriate behavior was observed with their pants and underwear pulled down, exposing their genital area, and another patient's hands on the resident's genitals. (Dawson Springs Health Care and Rehabilitation Center)
- Failure to ensure residents were protected from sexual abuse and neglect to develop policies, procedures, and protocols to determine a resident's capacity to consent to sexual contact after one resident made sexual contact with another resident. (Elliott Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center)
- Failure to ensure residents were free from abuse after a staff member yelled and cursed at a resident, made fun of the resident, threatened them, and exposed themselves to the resident. (Landmark of Iroquois Park Rehabilitation and Nursing Center)
- Failure to ensure residents were free from abuse when two patients were involved in resident-to-resident sexual abuse and two other residents were engaged in resident-to-resident physical abuse. (Landmark of Louisville Rehabilitation and Nursing Center )
- Failure to ensure that residents were free from abuse, neglect, and misappropriation of a resident's property after a State Register Nursing Assistant observed a resident engaging in inappropriate, non-consensual sexual activity with another patient. (Nicholasville Nursing and Rehabilitation Center)
- Failure to protect residents from abuse and neglect when the facility willfully deprives a patient of the personal belongings necessary to attain or maintain their mental and psychosocial well-being leads to emotional distress. (Ridgeway Nursing and Rehabilitation Facility)
Sexual Abuse at Skilled Nursing Facilities in Kentucky
Kentucky nursing homes provide care for elderly residents with dementia, Alzheimer's, stroke, heart failure, Parkinson's disease, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, depression, anxiety, and other health conditions.
These vulnerable patients require constant supervision and assistance. Unfortunately, some nursing residents become victims of sexual abuse.
All nursing home facilities in Kentucky must take immediate action when a patient is sexually assaulted or abused. The victim should be immediately removed from the premises and transferred to another location where they can receive medical attention. Staff members should also report the incident to law enforcement authorities.
According to the Department four Aging and Independent Living, other problems that lead to sexual misconduct at nursing homes in Kentucky include:
- Failing to protect residents from other patients: patient evaluations can often reveal a history of inappropriate sexual behavior that must be added to the Care Plan to protect other residents.
- Allowing patients known to be sexually aggressive to have contact with other residents.
- Not correctly monitoring patients or providing adequate supervision.
- Failing to report any incidents of sexual abuse immediately.
- Failing to develop and enforce policies and procedures regarding resident-on-resident sexual abuse.
- Failing to provide residents with adequate clothing or privacy when changing or bathing.
- Allowing staff or visitors access to residents' rooms without proper supervision.
- Failing to screen employees and volunteers adequately before they are allowed contact with residents.
- Failing to provide training on how to identify and report abuse or assault.
- Ignoring or dismissing complaints of nursing home abuse or assault.
- Threatening or intimidating residents who have complained about abuse or assault.
- Shamefully blaming the victim for the abuse or assault they experienced.
The Dangers of Accident Hazards at Nursing Homes in Kentucky
Hundreds of nursing home residents are killed or injured yearly due to preventable accidents. Slips, trips, and falls are the leading cause of accidental death and injury in Kentucky nursing homes, followed by fires, medication errors, and assaults.
The danger posed by these hazards can be compounded by the fact that many nursing residents are elderly and frail, making them more susceptible to severe injury or death if they fall, for example. In addition, many patients have dementia or other cognitive impairments that can make them more likely to wander off or become confused in hazardous situations.
Contributing factors leading to accidents in skilled nursing facilities in Kentucky include:
- Not answering the call light: Many residents need assistance with using the toilet and will summon a Certified Nursing Assistant using the call light. Failing to respond promptly can lead the patient to attempt to transfer to the wheelchair or walker to the bathroom unassisted. Lack of supervision: Patients are often left unsupervised in their beds which can lead to them falling out and injuring themselves.
- Poor lighting in hallways and rooms: It is challenging for staff at the skilled nursing facility to see if a patient has fallen or needs assistance.
- Deficient safety rails on beds and bathrooms can easily cause patients to fall while trying to get out of bed or go to the bathroom.
- Inadequate staffing levels can lead to nurses being too busy to properly attend to their patient's needs, leading to neglect.
- Use of restraints: Restraints can cause bedsores, muscle atrophy, and other severe injuries if misused.
- Use of psychotropic medications: These medications can often have harmful side effects, such as falls and confusion, which can lead to accidents.
- 8. Lack of staff training can lead to skilled nursing facility staff members not knowing how to properly assist patients, leading to accidents.
- Poorly maintained equipment: Malfunctioning equipment can easily lead to injuries for nursing home residents.
- Negligent care by staff: Staff members who are not paying attention can easily miss crucial signs that a patient is in danger, leading to an accident.
- Resident-on-resident abuse: This can often lead to severe injuries for both the victim and perpetrator.
- Poorly designed facilities: Narrow hallways, slippery floors, and other design flaws can easily lead to accidents in Kentucky nursing homes.
Preventing accidents in nursing homes is critical to protecting the safety of residents. Facility staff should be aware of the dangers posed by common accident hazards and take steps to mitigate these risks. Residents and their families should also be mindful of hazards and take precautions when visiting their loved ones in a nursing home.