Louisville and Lexington Newspapers Reveal Why Patients Receive Poor Care in Nursing Homes

08/27/2010 | Nursing Home Neglect

This week, two articles in the Lexington Herald-Leader and the Louisville Courier Journal address problems with nursing homes in both Kentucky and Indiana.   As a lawyer who handles nursing home neglect and negligence cases in Kentucky and Indiana, I find these articles to be especially interesting.  Both articles address understaffing in nursing homes which leads to lack of care.  As a result of being understaffed, residents are not turned as often as they should be which results in bed or pressure sores.  Also, bad management of nursing homes by nursing home administrators can lead to the neglect of residents.  

The nursing home industry is spending millions in political campaign contributions to lobby for laws which would limit their responsibilities and liabilities to their residents.  In fact, the industry has given $1.8 million to Kentucky politicians in the last decade.  These contributions and lobbying efforts mainly are geared toward opposing nursing home reform.  Nursing home reform would place greater requirements on nursing homes and would provide better care to their residents.  

Nursing home reform would place minimum staffing requirements on nursing homes based on their number of residents.  This would ensure that enough staff was employed to give residents the level of care they need and deserve.  As a result, the cases of residents who are injured, have bed sores, or are malnourished would decrease substantially.  

Nursing home reform could greatly help the care residents received in Indiana nursing homes, since federal regulators rank Indiana’s nursing homes as among the lowest performing in the nation.  According to the article in the Courier Journal, Indiana does not adequately discipline nursing home administrators for violations of nursing home policies and regulations.  In the last five years 300 reports have been made by nursing home inspectors, who are required to report violations during inspections to Indiana’s Attorney General.  However, the Attorney General has only brought six of those 300 complaints to the State Board of Health Facility Administrators . 

Another problem is that administrators who are brought before the State Board face hardly any punishment.  Basically, as long as they have appropriate policies in place they will not be disciplined.  And, even if they are disciplined by the Board they can still go work at facility after facility and continue to neglect and give poor care to residents.  Without serious consequences for their actions, administrators are likely to cut corners and continue to provide unsatisfactory care to residents.  

As the articles suggest, one way to fix problems at nursing homes and provide better care is to place more requirements on nursing homes.  Nursing homes are profit-driven companies and left to their own devices, they can cut corners and staffing to provide the minimum level of care.  By requiring nursing homes be staffed based on their number of residents, each resident can get the care they deserve. 

Be sure to download our book "Nursing Homes: What You Absolutely, Positively Must Know Before Choosing One"

And, see our video about nursing home abuse and neglect.