The decision to place a failing family member in a nursing home may come with some anxiety over the quality of care. A report from 2016, from the Inspector General’s Office for the Department of Health and Human Services, noted that approximately 20% of emergency medical treatment for Medicare beneficiaries was related to possible abuse or neglect of nursing home residents. Though the report included nationwide statistics, residents in Kentucky nursing facilities could potentially be at risk.

In spite of the Inspector General’s report, many nursing homes do not report suspected abuse or neglect to state regulators. In addition, even when a report has been substantiated, local police are often not informed. Some families have learned of abuse through the use of nanny cameras that captured footage of abuse carried out by nursing staff. 

In 2008, a survey of nursing home residents revealed that an estimated 10% of residents had suffered some form of abuse or neglect but did not report it out of fear of retaliation. In other cases, a victim is unable to inform anyone of negligent or abusive treatment due to diminished capacity. In one case, a dementia patient was forcibly removed from a toilet by a staff member who resorted to hair pulling and pinching to get the resident to stand. The Government Accountability Office recently released figures that showed that the numbers of abuse and neglect cases have doubled from 2013 to 2017, with much of the abuse perpetrated by staff.

One of the difficulties with ensuring the safety of residents is the gap between federal and state laws. Though federal statutes require these facilities to immediately report cases of suspected serious abuse or neglect to regulators and law enforcement, states do not have such regulations. Kentucky residents who suspect that a loved one has been a victim of abuse or neglect may benefit from consulting with an attorney who can ensure that corrective measures are taken, and can assist victims in seeking compensation for their financial damages when appropriate.