Residents of nursing homes and skilled care facilities are some of the most vulnerable people in our society, yet they are often neglected and sometimes even abused by those whose job it is to care for them. On March 6, 2018, there was a senate hearing to examine the devastating abuse and neglect that is present in nursing facilities, including the sexual assault of Sonja Fischer, who was 83 at the time. George Kpingbah, 76 year-old nursing assistant, was found in the early hours of December 18, 2014 raping Fischer, who was unable to yell out for help or fight back due to her limitations. Unbeknownst to Fischer's family members, this was not the first allegation of abuse by Kpingbah. He had been suspended three times prior to this assault on suspicion of sexual abuse, yet the facility still allowed him to continue working the night shift.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has implemented more rigorous standards for the Five-Star Quality Rating System for nursing homes. The standards now require additional data from hospital readmissions, a lower threshold for staffing penalties, and separate evaluations for short-term and long-term stays. The star-rating overhaul aims to improve the quality of care at nursing facilities around the country, in addition to improving the reliability of ratings, and comes as a response to criticism of CMS for being too lenient in the past.
Judge Dan Schneider was only 68 years old when he passed away from not receiving needed antibiotics in 2013 after 24 days at the Louisville nursing home campus of the Masonic Homes of Kentucky. Recently, the nursing home company and pharmacy have agreed to a settlement of nearly $13 million to the family.
In 2017, Kentucky enacted a law that required any medical malpractice claim to be reviewed by a panel of experts and an attorney before the claimants could file their suit in court. This caused a mandatory delay, contradicting Kentucky's own constitution that states every person has access to the courts without delay. At the end of 2018, this law was declared unconstitutional. Cases in Kentucky can move forward much faster now.
Virtually all skilled nursing facilities accept taxpayer dollars via Medicare. As a condition of being able to get paid Medicare dollars, Medicare has regulations that set minimum standards for the quality of nursing care provided in nursing homes. The purpose of these regulations is in part to ensure proper care is given in order to avoid neglect, injury, and even death to nursing home patients. These regulations, 42 CFR 483.25, address some of the more common types of problems we see in nursing home cases, problems that can lead to injury, or even death.