In a complaint filed by the U.S. government against a Kentucky nursing home chain and its owners, it is alleged that the Kentucky nursing home fraudulently billed Medicare and Medicaid $16 million for worthless services and care that was so grossly deficient and abusive that it caused “egregious harm and even death to some of [the nursing home’s] residents.”
The lengthy complaint lists various abuses that allegedly occurred between 2004 and 2008, including medication errors (some of which caused residents to lapse into hypoglycemic comas because their medications used to regulate their blood sugar levels were not given as ordered) and understaffing at the nursing home that placed residents in immediate jeopardy of harm (for instance, failing to treat pressure ulcers timely and appropriately). The complaint alleges that the nursing home failed to have a registered nurse (RN) on duty for 8 consecutive hours every day, as required by federal law (on one cited occasion, the nursing home failed to have a RN on duty for more than 63 consecutive hours; and on another cited occasion, the RN on duty as identified in the nursing home records had resigned 2 weeks earlier).
The complaint alleges repeated failures to provide proper nutrition to residents, failures to promptly respond to the call lights of residents, failures to revise or update residents’ care plans, and placing adult diapers on residents who were not incontinent. Other egregious alleged failures include giving laxatives for 4 days to a female resident who had diarrhea (she died from sepsis after not having been properly fed, having poorly treated bedsores, having a colostomy, and having her leg amputated above the knee) and a male resident who had 9 untreated bedsores that required surgery to remove his coccyx and who received less than the recommended amount of fluids (the male resident died, even though he was listed as “likely to improve” when he was admitted into the nursing home). The nursing home had billed the U.S. government $12,896.93 for the “care” that it supposedly provided to the female resident.
From 2004 to 2008, the nursing home received $15,983,983.83 from Medicare and Medicaid. The U.S. government’s complaint seeks civil penalties in the amount of $5,500 to $11,000 for each alleged false claim filed by the nursing home along with treble damages and penalties for fraud and unjust enrichment.
Abuse or neglect of vulnerable nursing home residents should be punished not only by civil penalties but also by criminal charges against those who intentionally or grossly neglect or abuse them. It is inhumane to fail to give sufficient fluids or adequate nurishment to those who cannot fully take care of themselves. And for the greedy nursing home owners who bill for services not provided to the most vulnerable in our society, there is no sufficient punishment during their time on earth.
If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of nursing home neglect or abuse, you should promptly seek the advice of medical malpractice attorneys to investigate your possible medical malpractice claim.
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