Louisville Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys
Providing Tireless Advocacy for Victims of Nursing Home Negligence
A nursing home should provide qualified care and services for residents who need medical or nursing provisions, as well as rehabilitation services for the injured, disabled, or sick. The institutionalized care patients receive at nursing homes most likely limits their lifestyle choices and the scope of privacy they might be accustomed to. However, patients should nevertheless expect and receive high-caliber care with dignity at such facilities.
Sadly, this is not always the case.
Nursing home abuse and negligence occur with surprising frequency across the United States, including in Kentucky and Indiana. If you are a victim or if you believe your elderly loved one is the victim of nursing home abuse or negligence, contact the appropriate authorities right away. Then, call Charles W. Miller & Associates. Our firm can begin building a case aimed at securing the justice you deserve and recovering the fair compensation you are owed.
Rights of Nursing Home Residents
The federal Nursing Home Reform Amendments of 1987, as well as correlating Kentucky and Indiana laws, gives protection to residents in nursing home facilities. Residents that lack decision-making capabilities can have an agent make health care decisions for them under a power of attorney or another legal representative recognized by Kentucky and Indiana laws. These agents can exercise the resident’s legal rights for them as well. KRS 216.515, Kentucky’s Nursing Home Patient Rights Act, provides as follows:
Every resident in a long-term-care facility shall have at least the following rights:
- Before admission to a long-term-care facility, the resident and the responsible party or his responsible family member or his guardian shall be fully informed in writing, as evidenced by the resident’s written acknowledgment and that of the responsible party or his responsible family member or his guardian, of all services available at the long-term-care facility. Every long-term-care facility shall keep the original document of each written acknowledgment in the resident’s personal file.
- Before admission to a long-term-care facility, the resident and the responsible party or his responsible family member or his guardian shall be fully informed in writing, as evidenced by the resident’s written acknowledgment and that of the responsible party or his responsible family member or his guardian, of all resident’s responsibilities and rights as defined in this section and KRS 216.520 to 216.530. Every long-term-care facility shall keep the original document of each written acknowledgment in the resident’s personal file.
- The resident and the responsible party or his responsible family member or his guardian shall be fully informed in writing, as evidenced by the resident’s written acknowledgment and that of the responsible party or his responsible family member, or his guardian, prior to or at the time of admission and quarterly during the resident’s stay at the facility, of all service charges for which the resident or his responsible family member or his guardian is responsible for paying. The resident and the responsible party or his responsible family member or his guardian shall have the right to file complaints concerning charges which they deem unjustified to appropriate local and state consumer protection agencies. Every long-term-care facility shall keep the original document of each written acknowledgment in the resident’s personal file.
- The resident shall be transferred or discharged only for medical reasons, or his own welfare, or that of the other residents, or for nonpayment, except where prohibited by law or administrative regulation. Reasonable notice of such action shall be given to the resident and the responsible party or his responsible family member or his guardian.
- All residents shall be encouraged and assisted throughout their periods of stay in long-term care facilities to exercise their rights as a resident and a citizen, and to this end may voice grievances and recommend changes in policies and services to facility staff and to outside representatives of their choice, free from restraint, interference, coercion, discrimination, or reprisal.
- All residents shall be free from mental and physical abuse, and free from chemical and physical restraints except in emergencies or except as thoroughly justified in writing by a physician for a specified and limited period of time and documented in the resident’s medical record.
- All residents shall have confidential treatment of their medical and personal records. Each resident or his responsible family member or his guardian shall approve or refuse the release of such records to any individuals outside the facility, except as otherwise specified by statute or administrative regulation.
- Each resident may manage the use of his personal funds. If the facility accepts the responsibility for managing the resident’s personal funds as evidenced by the facility’s written acknowledgment, proper accounting and monitoring of such funds shall be made. This shall include each facility giving quarterly itemized statements to the resident and the responsible party or his responsible family member or his guardian which detail the status of the resident’s personal funds and any transactions in which such funds have been received or disbursed. The facility shall return to the resident his valuables, personal possessions, and any unused balance of moneys from his account at the time of his transfer or discharge from the facility. In case of death or for valid reasons when he is transferred or discharged the resident’s valuables, personal possessions, and funds that the facility is not liable for shall be promptly returned to the resident’s responsible party or family member, or his guardian, or his executor.
- If a resident is married, privacy shall be assured for the spouse’s visits and if they are both residents in the facility, they may share the same room unless they are in different levels of care or unless medically contraindicated and documented by a physician in the resident’s medical record.
- Residents shall not be required to perform services for the facility that are not included for therapeutic purposes in their plan of care.
- Residents may associate and communicate privately with persons of their choice and send and receive personal mail unopened.
- Residents may retain the use of their personal clothing unless it would infringe upon the rights of others.
- No responsible resident shall be detained against his will. Residents shall be permitted and encouraged to go outdoors and leave the premises as they wish unless a legitimate reason can be shown and documented for refusing such activity.
- Residents shall be permitted to participate in activities of social, religious, and community groups at their discretion.
- Residents shall be assured of at least visual privacy in multibed rooms and in tub, shower, and toilet rooms.
- The resident and the responsible party or his responsible family member or his guardian shall be permitted the choice of a physician.
- If the resident is adjudicated mentally disabled in accordance with state law, the resident’s guardian shall act on the resident’s behalf in order that his rights be implemented.
- Each resident shall be treated with consideration, respect, and full recognition of his dignity and individuality, including privacy in treatment and in care for his personal needs.
- Every resident and the responsible party or his responsible family member or his guardian has the right to be fully informed of the resident’s medical condition unless medically contraindicated and documented by a physician in the resident’s medical record.
- Residents have the right to be suitably dressed at all times and given assistance when needed in maintaining body hygiene and good grooming.
- Residents shall have access to a telephone at a convenient location within the facility for making and receiving telephone calls.
- The resident’s responsible party or family member or his guardian shall be notified immediately of any accident, sudden illness, disease, unexplained absence, or anything unusual involving the resident.
- Residents have the right to have private meetings with the appropriate long-term care facility inspectors from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
- Each resident and the responsible party or his responsible family member or his guardian has the right to have access to all inspection reports on the facility.
- The above-stated rights shall apply in all cases unless medically contraindicated and documented by a physician in writing in the resident’s medical record.
- Any resident whose rights as specified in this section are deprived or infringed upon shall have a cause of action against any facility responsible for the violation. The action may be brought by the resident or his guardian. The action may be brought in any court of competent jurisdiction to enforce such rights and to recover actual and punitive damages for any deprivation or infringement on the rights of a resident. Any plaintiff who prevails in such action against the facility may be entitled to recover reasonable attorney’s fees, costs of the action, and damages, unless the court finds the plaintiff has acted in bad faith, with malicious purpose, or that there was a complete absence of justifiable issue of either law or fact. Prevailing defendants may be entitled to recover reasonable attorney’s fees. The remedies provided in this section are in addition to and cumulative with other legal and administrative remedies available to a resident and to the cabinet.
See KRS 216.515.
These laws mandate that nursing homes in Kentucky abide by strict basic standards of care for each resident under the facility’s supervision. The many specific rights guaranteed by federal and state laws aim to ensure the quality of life of each resident is respected and set quality standards for the provision of services and activities. When a nursing home or similar facility fails to meet these standards, victims and their loved ones can take legal action.
Tips for Choosing an Acceptable Nursing Home
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) offers some great tools when you are looking for the appropriate nursing home to care for yourself or a loved one. The Medicare office offers important information on nursing homes, allowing you to compare nursing homes that are certified in Medicare and/or Medicaid.
First and foremost, always tour a nursing home facility in person. This will allow you to observe the overall conditions and apparent quality of the facility for yourself.
When touring potential nursing homes, take note of the following:
- The staff: Note the ratio of staff members to residents; does there appear to be enough nursing assistants and other staff members for the number of residents at the facility? Are there any doctors or physicians on site? What is the overall demeanor of the staff? How do they interact with residents?
- The conditions: Note any conditions—such as broken lights, torn carpeting, or soiled bed sheets—that appear unhygienic or indicate a lack of attention to necessary repairs. Does the facility seem generally clean? Is it rundown? Are there any property conditions that could be potentially dangerous for residents and/or staff?
- The residents: Observe the residents and how they interact with each other, as well as with staff members. Many elderly individuals may appear upset or agitated due to various factors, including dementia and other mental conditions, but you’ll want to take note if all of the residents appear unhappy. Not seeing any residents is another red flag; a quality nursing home will allow residents to spend time outside/in communal areas where they can interact with other residents and visitors.
During your tour, ask about available activities for residents, how medications are administered, and any special needs you or your loved one may have. You will also want to do your own research before or after visiting the facility but, keep in mind, there is truly no substitute for an in-person visit.
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse/Neglect
Unfortunately, many nursing home residents are unable to speak up when abuse or neglect occurs. Residents may not even realize that what they are experiencing is, in fact, abuse or they may be afraid to tell anyone about what is occurring. It is important that you are aware of the signs of nursing home abuse and neglect so that you can take swift action at the first indication that something is wrong.
If you experience or notice any of the following signs of nursing home neglect or abuse, please contact a qualified attorney at Charles W. Miller & Associates as soon as possible:
- Frequent or persistent bruising
- Falls and/or broken bones
- Pressure sores/bed sores
- Dry skin/chapped lips
- Unexplained weight loss/inability to eat
- Unexplained changes in behavior/mood
- Suspicious withdrawals from bank accounts
The Louisville nursing home abuse attorneys at Charles W. Miller & Associates have the knowledge and experience to fight for the rights of people who were injured as a result of nursing home of abuse or neglect. Contact our firm to discuss your rights or the rights of your loved one today.
Call (502) 890-9954 for a free, confidential consultation and case evaluation.
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