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July 15th, 2010

It has been 11 months since a Type A citation, Kentucky’s most serious regulatory citation, was issued to Johnson Mathers Nursing Home in Carlisle, KY for the wrongful death case of James “Ronnie” Duncan. Since then, the delay of making a decision of closing the case or pursuing a criminal trial has raised concerns in the way that these types of abuse cases are handled. A mentally handicapped resident, Duncan, was left alone in bed for three hours after a severe fall, which resulted in internal brain bleeding and his death in May 2009.

This case is just one of 8 nursing home abuse cases inKentucky that have failed to make progress in investigation, with at least two cases from the same nursing home open for nearly three years. All 8 cases are open and under review by either the Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Control or local prosecutors. Complicating the investigations is the fact that police or coroners are not usually called to collect evidence for deaths in nursing homes. Other issues hindering and slowing investigations include investigators’ high case loads, staffing shortages, coordination with other law enforcement agencies, and difficulty finding witnesses.

Another investigation involving the Woodcrest Manor Care Center in Elsmere, KY has been open for 11 months. The case involves a resident who fell five times in less than a month, prompting staff of the nursing home to place his bed against the wall and position a senor on the floor so staff could hear if he fell again. The resident then began going over the end of the bed, and consequently not triggering the sensor, which was known to staff but there is no evidence they addressed this problem.

The resident was found July 9, 2009, three feet from his bed with a broken spine and a hematoma on his head. The man was taken to a hospital, where he died six days later. The case is still under review according to the attorney general’s office.


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