Our firm was contacted by the family of a man who was a resident of a Kentucky nursing home. The family had concerns that their father was not receiving proper care while in the home. They had concerns about his sudden weight loss and several bed sores that had developed over the last few months. They had expressed their concerns to the nursing home administrator. The administrator met with the family and assured them that their concerns were listened to and that the staff would keep an extra eye on their father. In addition, the nursing home administrator indicated to the family that she had personally reviewed their father’s chart and that the care looked fine.
Despite these reassurances, the family considered moving their dad to a different home but had not yet been able to do so because of his Medicare/Medicaid status and the availability of beds within the nursing homes in Kentucky. They were on a waiting list for a nursing home near Louisville which was only about thirty more minutes from his current home in Western Kentucky. The family discussed having him move back in with them but decided it just wasn’t possible given his mental and physical condition. He stayed in the nursing home near E-town but never made it to his new home. He died within days of the family contacting us with their concerns. What happened?
Abuse and Neglect Are Impossible to Predict
Like many of Kentucky’s nursing home residents, their father was in poor health. He had begun to have increased problems with dementia and had had increased difficulty walking and caring for himself due to a broken hip that never healed quite right. He needed constant encouragement to eat and required physical therapy daily and frequent turning to prevent bedsores. Due to his decreased mobility he was at risk for skin breakdown. He wasn’t the easiest resident to handle. Still, he was entitled to proper care and promised as much by the nursing home who agreed to take him in as a resident and make money by billing his insurance.
Prior to being admitted to the defendant’s nursing home, our client could have gone to another home who offered to accept him but were located almost 45 minutes away from his family. Since the closer home promised to provide excellent care, they went with the closer home. There was no way the family could have known that they had made a poor choice and had been mislead by the nursing home. Even after they had suspicions that their father wasn’t receiving good care, they were reassured time and again by the nursing home staff that they were taking great care of their dad. This was not true.
Our Experts Uncovered False Records That Pointed to Our Client's Father Being Neglected
After being contacted by the family, our firm requested all of the nursing homes medical records and other documentation concerning their father. There were several hundred pages of information regarding their father’s medical care at the home. Our team then dove into the records to analyze his care. This process took several weeks as we organized and reviewed the records and discussed findings with experts we hired to review the records for indications of negligence and abuse.
During our review, it became apparent that a large majority of the records were almost identical in areas that should have shown variances. For instance, the blood pressure readings were identical. Everyday, no matter what time the reading was taken or who took the readings. His food intake records were the same. Everyday, regardless of what was served or how he felt he was documented as eating the exact same amount. His weight, despite visible signs of weight loss, was documented as the same, everyday, every time. This type of blatant false chart filling isn’t common but we have seen this before. The records were virtually worthless to determine what was actually being done to care for our client. They were, however, useful to demonstrate that they couldn’t be used to prove ANYTHING was being done for our client. They were, in fact, proof that he was not getting the care he deserved.
The staff charting aside, it was apparent from the intermittent hospital admissions and independent lab work that our client was not getting adequate nutrition nor was he being turned to prevent bedsores as he should have been. During the final admission to the hospital, serum protein levels indicated that our client was horribly malnourished. The documentation indicating that he had been consistently taking in enough nutrition was clearly false. He had been slowly starved to death. This fact, coupled with the apparent lack of being turned, were the perfect storm for bedsores to develop. Unfortunately, the bedsores became infected. In his weaked state, he was unable to fight off the infection and became septic. Once the sepsis set in, he only lasted a few days before passing away.
The Truth Can Be Uncovered With Experienced Attorneys Handling the Case
This case is a prime example that nursing home records are but one piece of the puzzle when investigating nursing home abuse and neglect cases. Nursing home resident’s records are often unreliable, disorganized, and rife with inaccuracies that often designed to benefit the nursing home versus the resident. Careful, thoughtful, examination must be undertaken to ensure that the truth is uncovered.
In the case above, we were able to cut through the charade of the bogus charting and prove that our client was not receiving the care he was documented as receiving. When we cross-examined the staff regarding the records, many admitted that the charting was bogus. The staff ultimately blamed the owners of the nursing home for understaffing the facility and not providing them with the proper training to care for residents such as our client. It was a classic, tragic example of profits over people.