Cost is one obstacle for bill that would require coroners to look into nursing home deaths

A bill that would require coroners to be called when someone dies in a nursing home may be in jeopardy. At issue is how to pay for it.

Chief State Medical Examiner Tracey Corey estimates she would need three more doctors, more support staff and more equipment if even 10 percent of deaths needed investigation, the Lexington Herald-Leader‘s Valarie Honeycutt-Spears reports.

House Bill 69, sponsored by Rep. Tom Burch, D-Louisville, right, would require a nursing home or hospice staff member to alert a coroner about a death on the premises within 24 hours. If they, and they alone, suspect abuse, coroners would be required to inform law enforcement authorities or prosecutors. The aim is to determine if abuse or neglect might have occurred.
“But Burch said if Corey’s financial concerns lead to the bill being sent to the committee making decisions about state spending, he think it ‘means sudden death’ for the legislation,” Honeycutt-Spears reports.
Burch also said nursing home officials are balking at the bill’s aim to increase the penalties for failing to report abuse or neglect. As of now, such a failure is considered a Class B misdemeanor, which carries a punishment of up to 90 days in jail and a $250 fine. The bill would change it to a Class A misdemeanor, which can result in up to 12 months in jail and a fine up to $500.
The bill would also mean long-term care facilities that fail to designate a staff member to report deaths to the coroner would be fined $200 a week. (Read more)
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