Unlike other states, Kentucky has no mandatory staffing requirements for nursing homes. This is largely due to nursing home lobbyists and other special interest groups influencing Kentucky politicians to let them maximize profits in their nursing homes at the expense of the residents that reside in them. It’s not safe and its not right.
Understaffed Nursing Homes Can Create Dangerous, Yet Preventable, Problems
Understaffing in Kentucky nursing homes can lead to serious injuries and often times the untimely death of the residents. Our firm has handled numerous cases involving understaffing that resulting in serious injuries and death that were entirely preventable had adequate staff been put in place to care for the resident.
Recently, our firm successfully resolved a case involving a 67 year old female that was transferred to a Kentucky nursing home following a total hip replacement. She was expected to stay in the rehabilitation unit of the nursing home for less than two weeks while she completed physician therapy (PT) to regain mobility and strength. One the third day in the nursing home she began developing respiratory issues as indicated by shortness of breath and decreased oxygen saturation. Although these warning signs were noted by the nursing staff, there was no effort made to communicate these findings to a physician. In addition, there were no efforts to investigate the cause of these symptoms she was experiencing.
Improper Action by Nursing Home Medical Staff Made Matters Worse
Two days went by and her symptoms increased as indicated by the nursing home chart. Still no effort was made to consult with a physician nor find the cause. On the seventh day of admission she starting becoming agitated and confused. A call was placed to the medical director but they did not come in to see the resident. Instead, as is often the case in Kentucky nursing homes, they doctor phoned in an order for a chest X-ray and a broad spectrum antibiotic. It took the nursing home staff over 8 hours to administer the first does of the antibiotic.
When the staff went to the resident’s room, she was found unresponsive and barley breathing. An ambulance was called and she was taken to the hospital emergency department where she was diagnosed with sepsis secondary to a severe urinary tract infection (UTI). IV antibiotics were started but it was too late. She succumbed the the sepsis and passed away with hours of being admitted to the hospital.
Our Attorneys Found Understaffing to be the Root Cause of this Unfortunate Event
During our investigation it was discovered that the nursing home had very few nurses per resident. This resulted in care being delayed as was the case with the resident’s antibiotics being given. In addition, the low number of staff in the nursing home resulted in very little time being spent monitoring and caring for each resident. Had sufficient staff been present, our client’s condition could have been monitored more closely and her symptoms appreciated. This could (and should) have resulted in warning signs being recognized sooner and care being administered. Instead, a simple UTI resulted in a death that was highly preventable.