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Families have a new option for fighting nursing home abuse

Kentucky residents who have placed a loved one in a nursing home might be interested in a new ruling that will allow families more freedom to hold long-term care facilities accountable for the well-being of their residents. Under the new ruling, families will be allowed to sue nursing homes for neglect.

Nursing home contracts usually include clauses that forbid residents' family members from filing lawsuits against the nursing home. Instead, when complaints were filed with a nursing home, families were usually forced into arbitration. According to the CEO of the Medicaid Advisory Group, the justice system in such cases was often not on the patient's side. In addition, she says, the public was never made aware of what went on in these closed-door arbitrations, even when the ruling was against the nursing home.

Under the new ruling, families will be able to file wrongful care lawsuits against nursing homes. The Medicaid Advisory Group CEO suggests that family members of nursing home residents watch for signs of abuse or neglect. She says that often, patients with dementia are not taken seriously when they claim they have been mistreated. Sudden changes in behavior could be a signal that there is a problem, and claims of abuse or mistreatment should be investigated regardless of the resident's mental health.

Nursing home abuse does not have to involve intentional mistreatment of patients by staff members. Neglect or wrongful care could also be in the area of malpractice. Nursing home residents in the Bluegrass State have specific legal rights under the Kentucky Nursing Home Residents' Bill of Rights, which is part of the Kentucky Residents' Rights Act.

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