Nursing Home Negligence: February 2013 Archives

February 28, 2013

Kentucky Nursing Home Fined by Federal Government for Resident Neglect and Fraud

Entities have been defrauding the U.S. federal government since the Civil War in 1861. During the war, it was discovered that businessmen were selling defective weapons, sick horses and spoiled food to the government for the soldiers in both the North and the South. To combat these issues, the False Claims Act was enacted in 1863. After several revisions, this act still remains in effect today and is used in cases ranging from businesses fraudulently trying to collect money from the government to manufacturers selling bad products because they were not tested according to government standards.

Health care issues are a frequent cause of cases filed under the False Claims Act, and a case against a Kentucky nursing home that recently settled is a good example of this. Villaspring Health Care and Rehabilitation is a nursing home located in Erlanger, Kentucky. Like most nursing homes, it receives payment for many of the services it supposedly provides from the government through Medicare and Medicaid. However, in 2011, the federal government filed a claim stating that the nursing home was fraudulently collecting money from it.

According to the complaint, the nursing home in question should not have been submitting their bills to Medicare and Medicaid because the care they were providing their nursing home residents was substandard. How substandard? Five people allegedly died at the facility between 2004 and 2008 and more were injured because of the nursing home's negligence and insufficient care. The case, which was recently settled, is the first of its kind filed against a Kentucky nursing home under the False Claims Act. Advocates for improving care at nursing homes hope that this case and other future ones like it will improve the care at nursing homes and lessen the amount of abuse and neglect that occurs in Kentucky.

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February 8, 2013

Proposed Bill Would Require Board Review of Kentucky Nursing Home Lawsuits

Kentucky nursing home abuse and neglect is far too prevalent already. Numerous residents throughout the Commonwealth suffer from bedsores, malnutrition, dehydration, and injuries from improper handling and medication errors. Now the Senate Health and Welfare Committee has approved a proposed bill that may make it harder for victims to file personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits against nursing homes.

Senate Bill 9 would require that any potential nursing home injury or wrongful death lawsuit be heard by a three-person medical panel before it could proceed in court. The panel would be created by both parties, with each party selecting one person and the third being agreed upon by both. The board's findings would then be admissible in court.

While this seems fair at first, there are foreseeable problems with this arrangement. First, it prolongs the amount of time it takes for a victim to be compensated for injuries or an estate to be compensated for the death of a loved one. Many families need this compensation sooner rather than later for medical bills or funeral expenses. Second, the medical professionals chosen by the victim and by both sides together may still be partial to the nursing home. Some may cast their votes against the victims to ensure that they are not blacklisted at the nursing home and unable to provide services there. There is no financial or professional benefit to being a proponent for a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect.

This seems to be a no-win situation for those who have suffered in a Kentucky nursing home. But there is perhaps a positive side to it. If by chance the medical board would rule in favor of the victim, this information could be very beneficial to the case. Having at least two out of three experts stating the resident's injuries were caused by the nursing home would make it hard for another expert to dispute in court.

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