Nursing Home Abuse in Kansas – How to Spot the Early Signs

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Laura Schaefer

The Topeka Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare (TCRH) in Kansas had 129 deficiencies and 10 infection-related deficiencies since 2023. Just one nursing home sustained this many infractions, showing the extent of nursing home abuse in Kansas facilities.

Out of all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the AARP ranks Kansas in 30th place for elderly long-term care. All residents in Kansas’s 330 nursing homes have the right to a safe environment.

If you have concerns, help is available, including skilled legal assistance from a nursing home abuse attorney. Without legal help, you may not guarantee an adequate settlement for your losses.

Keep reading the guide below for all the information you need to get you or your loved one assistance right away.

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Nursing Home Resident Rights in Kansas

Every Kansas nursing home patient has resident rights enforced by state and federal law. These rights are intended to protect the elderly and vulnerable adults from harm and exploitation.

Each resident shall have a right to a dignified existence, self-determination, and communication with and access to persons and services inside and outside the adult care home. Each adult care home shall protect and promote the rights of each resident as set forth in this regulation.

Kan. Admin. Regs. § 28-39-147

Residents also have the right to privacy, especially relating to their medical records, enforced under Kansas nursing home law:

“Each resident shall have the right to personal privacy and confidentiality of personal and clinical records.”

-Kan. Admin. Regs. § 28-39-147(h)

The best way to verify your loved one’s resident rights is through consulting a nursing home abuse attorney. Your loved one may feel ashamed if they vocalize their abuse. Even worse, they may fear the threat of retaliation from their caretakers.

Defining Nursing Home Abuse in Kansas

In a 2023 Medicare report, TCRH showed 13 deficiencies and was cited as jeopardizing resident health. This was due to a failure to provide sufficient nursing staff to residents.

Reports like this one show the importance of learning your loved one’s nursing home environment. Kansas typically defines nursing home abuse as:

Infliction of physical injury, unreasonable confinement or unreasonable punishment upon a dependent adult or an elder person;

Kan. Stat. § 21-5417

There are other forms of abuse caretakers use against their residents that extend past physical injury. These include:

Understand the nature of nursing home abuse to protect your loved one from harm. If you suspect abuse, don’t hesitate to call an attorney to verify your rights.

Physical Abuse

Any form of unwanted or unreasonable contact against a resident is considered nursing home physical abuse in Kansas. Nursing home employees may exhibit violent behavior against their residents, which leads to abuse. Examples of such actions include:

  • Punching, kicking, or shoving
  • Excessive grabbing
  • Overuse of physical or chemical restraints

Look for the following signs if you suspect your loved one saw or experienced physical abuse from their caretakers:

  • Unexplained physical injuries (bruises, cuts, broken bones, head injuries)
  • Drastic changes in mood or behavior
  • Sudden medical conditions
  • Signs of untreated bedsores

They may refrain from revealing their condition for fear of retaliation from their caretakers. Ensure your loved one that their rights are protected, and they have free legal options to fight back against a nursing home threatening their safety.

Neglect

Some nursing homes simply don’t have enough staff coverage to meet the basic needs of their residents. This leads to nursing home neglect, where a resident’s basic needs are ignored, leading to severe harm.

Signs of neglect include:

  • Medication errors
  • Weight loss
  • Dirty rooms
  • Soiled sheets
  • Overfilled trash receptacles

No matter how understaffed a nursing home becomes, Kansas nursing home law mandates at least 2 hours of direct care per resident every week. The daily average care amount should not be lower than 1.85 hours per resident.

If Kansas nursing homes fail to meet these minimum requirements, they may face legal action for neglecting their vulnerable adults.

Emotional Abuse

When a resident shows signs of depression or withdraws from others, it could be an indication of emotional abuse at the nursing home. A staff member may be ignoring the resident’s requests or yelling at a resident, making them feel guilty. They could also be isolating them or threatening violence.

Financial Abuse

Kansas nursing home law also grants the right to manage one’s own financial affairs:

The adult care home shall afford each resident the right to manage personal financial affairs and the adult care home shall not require any resident to deposit personal funds with the adult care home.

-Kan. Admin. Regs. § 28-39-147(f)

Be sure to keep an eye on account activity for any large cash withdrawals or other suspicious transactions. Likewise, watch for unexplained changes to estate planning documents.

Kansas has laws specifically prohibiting the abuse of a vulnerable adult’s funds. Those responsible for stealing a nursing home resident’s funds may face criminal charges depending on how much resources taken:

  • $1,000,000 or more is a severity level 2, person felony;
  • At least $250,000 but less than $1,000,000 is a severity level 3, person felony;
  • At least $100,000 but less than $250,000 is a severity level 4, person felony;
  • At least $25,000 but less than $100,000 is a severity level 5, person felony;
  • At least $1,500 but less than $25,000 is a severity level 7, person felony;
  • Less than $1,500 is a class A person misdemeanor, except as provided in subsection (b)(2)(G)

K.S.A. 21-5417

Early Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

The U.S. Department of Justice notes some ways that abuse may appear. Keep these signs in mind when dealing with potential nursing home abuse in Kansas:

  • Bruises, black eyes, welts, bleeding, cuts, lacerations
  • Sprains, dislocations, broken bones
  • Unusual changes in sleeping and eating patterns
  • Emotional upset or agitation
  • Personality changes, such as excessive apologizing
  • Missing or broken personal items
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Unexplained disappearance of funds or possessions
  • Unsanitary or unclean living conditions
  • Torn or dirty clothing or undergarments
  • Dehydration, malnutrition, untreated bed sores, and poor personal hygiene

Common Causes for Nursing Home Abuse

According to Human Rights Watch, the pandemic showed many nursing home regulation gaps around staffing. Academic research found that nursing homes are chronically understaffed.

Because many nursing homes are largely funded by Medicaid funds, wages are low and employees are difficult to retain. This leads to high turnover and a lack of sufficient training.

Types of Damages for a Nursing Home Abuse Claim

There are two types of damages a resident may seek in a civil lawsuit surrounding nursing home abuse in Kansas. These are compensatory and punitive damages.

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages are monetary payouts for “actual” damages resulting from the incident. These may be in the form of economic damages, like medical bills or money lost via financial exploitation.

Or they may be non-economic damages like pain and suffering or emotional distress. Kansas caps non-economic damages for personal injury, medical malpractice, and wrongful death awards at $250,000.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are payouts designed to punish the perpetrator – in this case the nursing home owner or operator. These will only be allowed in cases where there’s clear evidence the defendant was acting with malice and intent to harm.

IMPORTANT: The burden of proof is high for this type of damage award. You will likely only see punitive damages added to particularly egregious cases. The cap on this type of award in Kansas is $5 million.

How to Report a Nursing Home for Abuse

The Survey, Certification and Credentialing Commission is responsible for investigating allegations of abuse, neglect, exploitation or failure to provide adequate care and services to residents in adult care homes licensed by KDADS.

Investigations are done to determine compliance with federal and state regulations regarding the health, safety, and welfare of any resident of any licensed adult care home.

-Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services

If you want to report the nursing home abuse case directly, you can contact them through this number:

Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services
800-842-0078
Hours of Operation:  Monday through Friday - 8 am to 5 pm

Kansas Ombudsman

This is a state-wide advocacy organization seeking to improve long-term care facility residents’ quality of life and care. Ombudsman investigate and work to resolve complaints made by or on behalf of residents of long-term care facilities. In handling complaints, Ombudsmen:

  • Respect resident and complainant confidentiality
  • Encourage resident empowerment
  • Focus complaint resolutions on the resident’s wishes

All investigations are confidential and provided at no charge.

Call: 1-877-662-8362 (toll-free) or 785-296-3017

Email: [email protected]

Kansas Statute of Limitations for Nursing Home Claims

The law requires that nursing home cases be brought within two years of the date of injury (or incident) in Kansas. This statute of limitations which applies to medical malpractice claims. Nursing homes are considered medical care providers under the law in Kansas.

Connect with a Kansas Nursing Home Attorney With LegalASAP

If you suspect you’re witnessing a case of nursing home abuse or neglect in Kansas, take action and don’t try to handle it alone. Nursing home abuse cases in Kansas may be complex due to intricate details regarding the law.

Let us connect you with a nursing home abuse attorney from our network of 500+ firms. All consultations are free, and it’s always better to talk with an expert about your unique case.

Laura Schaefer

Laura Schaefer is the author ofThe Teashop Girls,The Secret Ingredient, andLittler Women: A Modern Retelling. She is also an active co-author or ghostwriter of several nonfiction books on personal and business development. Laura currently lives in Windermere, Florida with her husband and daughter and works with clients all over the world. Visit her online at lauraschaeferwriter.com and linkedin.com.