Residents in personal care and nursing home facilities are vulnerable and need specialized attention, and they are endangered when there are not an adequate number of employees to provide for their needs.
Bowling Green, KY (PRWEB) September 17, 2011
An advocate’s recent request for Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear to call for an emergency session of the General Assembly to address staffing shortages at long-term care facilities is a step in the right direction, Bowling Green lawyers J. Marshall Hughes and Lee Coleman said today.
According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, Bernie Vonderheide, founder of Kentuckians for Nursing Home Reform, called for the session after a 32-year-old man with a brain injury was found dead on September 10 – a month after he went missing from a personal care home where, according to his sister, there was sometimes one attendant per every 24 residents.
“Ratios like that are unacceptable, and unfortunately all too common,” said Hughes, a Kentucky injury lawyer who handles nursing home abuse and neglect lawsuits in Bowling Green, Elizabethtown, Louisville, Lexington and throughout Kentucky.
“Residents in personal care and nursing home facilities are vulnerable and need specialized attention, and they are endangered when there are not an adequate number of employees to provide for their needs,” Hughes said.
No minimum staffing requirements are specified by state or federal law for nursing homes or personal care facilities, according to the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
Nursing homes serve the needs of the elder population who need constant medical care. By contrast, personal care homes provide assistance to disabled individuals who need assistance but not regular nursing services.
Abuse and neglect in nursing homes is gaining publicity in the mass media, but fewer people realize that personal care home residents are mistreated as well, according to Coleman.
“Those individuals may or may not be younger, but they often suffer from some of the same mental deficiencies that prevents elders with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia from speaking about abuse,” the Kentucky personal injury and wrongful death attorney explained.
Kentucky has made strides in recent months when it comes to nursing home staff members, acknowledged Coleman.
A prefiled bill in the Kentucky legislature would mandate background checks mandatory for all nursing home employees if it passes in the 2012 session. In June, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services awarded the state a $3 million grant to upgrade its background-check system from one that searches only by name to one that screens potential employees by digital fingerprinting.
“These are encouraging steps towards improving the quality and care in long-term care facilities,” Coleman said. “But that protection can only go so far if there aren’t enough employees to protect elderly residents in nursing homes in the first place. That’s why we urge Gov. Beshear to consider this matter quite deeply.”
There were more than 13,000 reports of neglect and elder abuse in Kentucky during state fiscal year 2010, according to the Department of Community Based Services.
When families suspect neglect and abuse, it is important for them to take measures to report it, said Hughes.
“Kentucky is a mandatory reporting state,” the attorney explained. “That means that if you suspect any form of abuse or neglect in nursing homes or personal care homes, you have a duty by law to report it.”
Personal injury laws and wrongful death laws allow victims of abuse to file lawsuits against long-term care facilities, Coleman added.
“Contacting a lawyer with experience handling nursing home and personal care facilities litigation can be the best way for victims and their families to recover from abuse and neglect, at least financially,” he said.
“We’re always hopeful that legislative reforms will ensure safety before abusive situations happen, but until that time, victims deserve lawyers who can help them defend their rights.”
About Hughes & Coleman Injury Lawyers
Hughes & Coleman Injury Lawyers, with Kentucky offices in Bowling Green, Elizabethtown, Lexington and Louisville, is dedicated to protecting the rights and interests of nursing home abuse and neglect victims, as well as the families who care deeply about their elderly loved ones.
Partners J. Marshall Hughes and Lee Coleman are accomplished injury attorneys and advocates for people who have suffered from nursing home neglect and abuse, as well as auto accidents, brain injury, drug injury, defective products, environmental dangers, fire and burn injury, insurance disputes, motorcycle accidents, premises liability, Social Security disability, stock fraud, truck accident injury, workers’ compensation and wrongful death.
For more information contact Hughes & Coleman Injury Lawyers at (800) 489-6000 or use the firm's online contact form.