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Kentucky nursing home verdict leads to proposed legislation to regulate staffing levels at homes

The family of an 84 year old man who died in a Frankfort, Kentucky nursing home as a result of inadequate staffing levels has joined forces with resident advocates to fight for a bill requiring a specific ratio of workers to residents.

The man, whose calls complaining of stomach pain went unanswered due to inadequate staffing, eventually died from a heart attack triggered by the stress of a severe, untreated bowel obstruction.

The family says the death highlights the need for Kentucky to enact a law that spells out how many staff members are required to be on duty for a given number of nursing home residents. Kentucky has no law requiring a specific ratio of workers to residents, although 33 states have adopted such requirements, according to a 2005 study.

Advocates in Kentucky have pushed for legislation in the past with the initial bills never making it past the House Health and Welfare Committee. Legislators say the state is hesitant to adopt a measure without the means to pay for it.

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