Today I will discuss a couple of articles I recently read about the growing problem of abuse and neglect in Kentucky nursing homes. Instead of preventing abuse and neglect and providing good quality care, the nursing home industry is blaming litigation and asking for immunity and arbitrary caps on damages.
The first article is from the Lexington Herald-Leader talking about the increase in abuse and neglect in Kentucky nursing homes. Abuse and neglect probably occurred in 583 investigations. In 2011, substantiated abuse and neglect rose to 28% of all investigations. It was 18% in 2010. The number of cases investigated went up 2.1 percent from 2010 to 2011, but the number of substantiated cases went up 58.4 percent. That is quite an increase.
This is the second year that the report has included statistics on state investigations of alleged abuse in long-term care centers.The report is a joint venture of the Cabinet and the Kentucky Elder Abuse Committee. A discussion of the 2011 report is on the agenda of the Elder Abuse Committee’s September meeting in Frankfort. The committee includes representatives of state agencies, industry groups and advocates.The elder abuse committee, which is required to meet by law, had languished in recent years. It was revitalized as one of 20 recommendations Beshear issued.
An article from the Richmond Register discusses the cases of abuse and neglect against national for-profit chain Extendicare. After siphoning funds away from care and causing residents’ harm,
Extendicare announced in May that it planned on leasing all 21 of its Kentucky nursing homes to “an experienced third-party, long-term care operator based in Texas,” according to a company news release. They refuse to say which shell company they are going to lease it to. Of course, Extendicare blames litigation and lawyers for their exit instead of their own poor care caused by corporate decisions and shortcuts.
"Since the beginning of this year, five wrongful death suits and one negligent care suit have been filed against Extendicare in the Madison County Circuit Clerk’s office.
• Sandra Baumgardner, administratrix of the estate of Ethel E. Rains, stated in her complaint that Rains was admitted Sept. 4, 2009, to Kenwood, and she died March 25, 2011. The complaint alleges Rains suffered pressure ulcers, multiple infections, falls with injuries, severe dehydration, extreme weight fluctuation, malnutrition, poor hygiene and death.
• Carol Dooly, administratrix of the estate of Donna Meeks, said in her complaint that Meeks died in December 2011 after staying at Kenwood. The complaint alleges that Meeks suffered accelerated deterioration of her health because of negligent care, including a significant delay in treating a hip fracture, dehydration, medication errors, compromised nutrition and weight loss.
• Mary E. Davis, executrix of the estate of James E. Davis, alleged in her complaint that after Davis was admitted Aug. 15 to Kenwood for a short-term stay following a fall at home, his health quickly worsened.
“While there, the doctor’s orders were not followed, and he suffered significant weight loss and a urinalysis performed on or about Aug. 19 revealed a severe untreated urinary tract infection,” the complaint states.
After 18 days at the facility, the family became alarmed by his declining mental and physical condition, and over staff protests, insisted that Davis be transferred to Pattie A. Clay Regional Medical Center’s emergency room, the complaint said.
At the ER, Davis was diagnosed with urosepsis, dehydration and acute renal failure, the complaint stated. Davis was placed in intensive care, and he died 43 days later.
• Yvonne Sams, executrix of the estate of William Witt, alleged in her complaint that Witt was admitted May 20, 2011, to Kenwood. He was taken to St. Joseph Berea for treatment July 11, 2011 and died July 14, according to the complaint.
Witt suffered accelerated deterioration of his health due to negligence including bruises, skin tears, weight loss, urinary tract infections, aspiration pneumonia and death, the complaint stated.
• Gary Newby, administrator of the estate of Nora E. Chapple, stated in his complaint that Chapple was admitted June 2, 2011, to Kenwood and died Aug. 15. While there, Chapple suffered bruises, pressure ulcers, falls, weight loss, urinary tract infections, overmedication and death, according to the complaint.
• Charlie Nichols stated in his complaint that since becoming a resident of Kenwood on Dec. 13, 2011, he has suffered from pressure ulcers, amputation of his left leg below his knee, skin abrasions, falls, weight loss, infections of pressure ulcers, cellulitis, urinary tract infections and poor hygiene.
In 2011, 10 civil suits were filed against Extendicare in Madison County, and two were filed in 2010, according to the Court of Justice website. In the counties where Extendicare has operated nursing homes, there are currently at least 43 civil lawsuits pending against the company, all filed since 2009, according to the Court of Justice database.
So what is the answer? I say increase staffing and provide better care if you don’t want to be sued.
Michael Tremoglie of Legal NewsLine thinks that tort reform will somehow protect residents and improve the quality of care based on his misinterpretation of a study in published in the March 31, 2011, New England Journal of Medicine indicates that it does not. The study’s authors – David M. Studdert, Matthew J. Spittal, Michelle M. Mello, James O’Malley and David G. Stevenson – studied, as the title indicated, the "Relationship between Quality of Care and Negligence Litigation in Nursing Homes."
How? He doesn’t explain that part.