Extendicare Health Services Inc., which currently operates 21 Kentucky nursing homes, announced that it would no longer maintain any of the facilities in Kentucky. The company will be leasing all of their Kentucky long-term care facilities to an undisclosed Texas company. The agreement and transfer is scheduled to be complete by July 1, 2012.

What prompted the decision to leave the state altogether? The president of Extendicare said, “the combination of a worsening litigation environment and the lack of any likelihood of tort reform in the state of Kentucky has made this the prudent decision for our company and unit-holders.” His quote means the company thinks there are too many nursing home abuse and negligence lawsuits being filed in the state and that there are no limits on the amount of damages that can be awarded in a lawsuit. This may seem costly to a nursing home company that is trying to make as much money as possible, but it is the best way to protect residents from the abuse and negligence that can and does occur in Kentucky nursing homes.

Rather than making it harder for victims of abuse and neglect to seek compensation or refusing to operate any facilities in the state, Maresa Fawns of the Kentucky Justice Association says nursing home companies should increase the quality of their care if they want to avoid lawsuits. If residents are being treated properly, they don’t have any reason to take legal action. Bernie Vonderheide of Kentuckians for Nursing Home Reform agrees, saying “We need nursing homes that abide by the regulations and provide good care. Then they don’t have to worry about being sued.”

A few Kentucky legislators tried to introduce a bill that would require nursing home residents to take their complaints to a medical review board before they could take legal action. The board would have been made up of three doctors – one selected by the nursing home, one selected by the resident, and one selected by the other two selected doctors. If the review panel decided the resident had a case, a lawsuit could then be filed. The bill has not passed. Opponents of the bill said it would delay the victim’s receipt of compensation and that doctors may favor the nursing homes in their decisions in order to gain more business.

We applaud Kentucky’s lawmakers for not instituting tort reform in our state. Limiting the amount of damages that can be awarded in a nursing home abuse or neglect case is detrimental to some of our most vulnerable residents. Even a $250,000 award is a mere drop in the bucket for the multi-million dollar companies that run many of the assisted living facilities. This amount of money will not encourage these large companies to make the changes necessary to keep the residents healthy and safe.

If you or a loved one have been abused or neglected in a nursing home or assisted living facility, please contact a LA personal injury attorney to discuss your case.

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