Entities have been defrauding the U.S. federal government since the Civil War in 1861. During the war, it was discovered that businessmen were selling defective weapons, sick horses and spoiled food to the government for the soldiers in both the North and the South. To combat these issues, the False Claims Act was enacted in 1863. After several revisions, this act still remains in effect today and is used in cases ranging from businesses fraudulently trying to collect money from the government to manufacturers selling bad products because they were not tested according to government standards.
Health care issues are a frequent cause of cases filed under the False Claims Act, and a case against a Kentucky nursing home that recently settled is a good example of this. Villaspring Health Care and Rehabilitation is a nursing home located in Erlanger, Kentucky. Like most nursing homes, it receives payment for many of the services it supposedly provides from the government through Medicare and Medicaid. However, in 2011, the federal government filed a claim stating that the nursing home was fraudulently collecting money from it.
According to the complaint, the nursing home in question should not have been submitting their bills to Medicare and Medicaid because the care they were providing their nursing home residents was substandard. How substandard? Five people allegedly died at the facility between 2004 and 2008 and more were injured because of the nursing home's negligence and insufficient care. The case, which was recently settled, is the first of its kind filed against a Kentucky nursing home under the False Claims Act. Advocates for improving care at nursing homes hope that this case and other future ones like it will improve the care at nursing homes and lessen the amount of abuse and neglect that occurs in Kentucky.
The nursing home has to pay $350,000 to the government. It also has to hire an outside consultant to help with improving residents' care and report to the government the steps it is taking to this end. The types of neglect charged in the complaint against this nursing home are unfortunately all too common. One woman who was admitted in 2004 after she broke her hip allegedly ended up with bedsores that became so infected that one of her legs had to be amputated, and she later died of a blood infection in 2005. The complaint also states that the nursing home failed to maintain or follow patient care plans, which can mean the difference between life and wrongful death for residents who are unable to look after themselves.
While the victims of nursing home abuse and negligence and their families are not entitled to money collected in False Claims Act cases, the fact that the government has taken action against a certain nursing home may help individuals with their own personal injury or wrongful death cases. An experienced Kentucky nursing home attorney can help victims and their families take the proper action to receive compensation for lost income, medical or funeral expenses, pain and suffering, and loss of companionship.
Erlanger nursing home to pay $350,000, enhance care; Lexington Herald-Leader; Valerie Honeycutt Spears; February 25, 2013