Nursing home regulators are rolling out new ways to better track citations issued to long-term-care facilities, a move designed to further protect residents in the state's more than 300 nursing homes.
The Cabinet for Health and Family Services Inspector General said this week that her office has established regular meetings with its staff to better track citations, is upping its training of nursing home regulators and is developing a standardized intake form for reporting abuse and neglect.
A series of Herald-Leader stories this summer found that Type A citations — those given when abuse and neglect result in death, broken bones or other serious injuries — aren't always reviewed by prosecutors and local law enforcement and that few Type A citations result in successful prosecutions.
Although the state sends all of the most serious nursing home violations to the attorney general's office, staff there said they never received at least five Type A citations issued by the inspector general from December 2006 through 2009.
Meanwhile, some investigations of Type A citations languished for months. Only seven of 107 Type A citations in which state investigators thought residents were in danger of death or serious injury resulted in prosecutions, the Herald-Leader found.
In September, Gov. Steve Beshear called for improved tracking of Type A citations. The recommendation was one of 20 issued after Beshear asked Cabinet Secretary Janie Miller to conduct a review of state policies regarding abuse and neglect in nursing homes.
Inspector General Mary Begley said Wednesday that a more detailed policy of reporting and following through on Type A citations within the Office of Inspector General is in the works.
Regular meetings of the staff at the OIG have been established to confirm the status of all Type As, Begley said.
In January, inspectors will be trained in a systematic way to document allegations of abuse and neglect in long-term-care facilities, Begley said.
"The training is intended to enhance consistency in how investigations into allegations of abuse and neglect in long-term-care facilities are conducted across the state," said Cabinet spokeswoman Gwenda Bond.
The general public also will be able to access and fill out a standardized form to document abuse and neglect that will be posted on the inspector general's Web site.
Shelley Johnson, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Jack Conway's office, said staff members also are meeting regularly with both the Office of Inspector General and the Department of Community Based Services, another division of the cabinet that investigates elder-abuse cases.
Those meetings "include discussions of Type A citations and how to ensure that the (attorney general's) office is receiving all allegations of abuse and neglect in Medicaid-funded facilities, including Type A citations issued to those facilities."
The cabinet also has acted on other recommendations from the review, such as revitalizing the state Elder Abuse Committee.
The committee, which is required to meet by law, had languished in recent years. It met last week.
The cabinet also has put all Type A citations of nursing home inspections on its Web site, making it easier for the public to find information about nursing homes online.
Although nursing homes were required to make the information available to people who asked for it, those Type A citations were not available on the Internet in a user-friendly form.