Study Finds Rampant Unreported Nursing Home Abuse
A recent report conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services concluded that unreported nursing home abuse is common. The facilities did not report the abuse to police despite the fact that state and federal law require that serious cases of abuse in nursing homes be turned over to law enforcement. The study is ongoing, but the agency released the information now since the instances of this were so shocking.
About Nursing Home Abuse
Each year in the United States, an estimated 2.1 million seniors are the victims of some form of abuse. Many elderly do not report the abuse or neglect. In fact, 1 in 6 doesn’t report. Unfortunately, abused elders die earlier than their well cared for counterparts. According to the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA), the maltreatment and abuse of the elderly is a significant problem among the elderly population in America. It is more common in women over age 80. Also, those who are abused are at a 300 percent increase of dying within three years.
Reasons For Unreported Nursing Home Abuse
The Department of Health and Human Services’ study included a large sampling of cases in 33 states. Currently, there are 1.4 million people living in American nursing homes. Yet, the quality of these facilities is of a grave concern. Some auditors found in a two-year span over 130 cases of emergency visits indicating possible sexual or physical abuse, or neglect, of nursing home residents. The incidents spanned a two-year period from 2015-2016. Illinois had the largest number of incidents overall, with 17. It was followed by Michigan (13), Texas (9), and California (8).
However, in nearly 30% of the cases sampled, investigators found zero evidence in hospital records that the incident had been reported to local law enforcement. This is against the law. The federal statute has been on the books for more than five years, but investigators found that Medicare has not enforced this requirement. The fine is up to $300,000 for unreported nursing home abuse. In fact, personnel has 24 hours to notify law enforcement of a suspected crime.
Of the many unreported cases, about 4 out of 5 involved sexual abuse.
Nursing Home Cover-Up
Even if a facility reports the crime, many times the nursing home will go to great measures to conceal evidence from an investigation. Researchers found a case in which staff took an elderly woman who is limited in both mobility and verbal communications to the hospital. Personnel saw two large bruises on her breast. Yet, even though the staff suspected sexual misconduct, they still bathe her and changed her clothes. These actions destroy evidence. Plus, the nursing home did not immediately report it in the 24 hours as required by law. It was the woman’s family who called the police. Also, the same facility actually called local law enforcement and tried to insist on stopping the investigation.
Experts expect these numbers of unreported nursing home abuse to rise as more people live into their 80s and 90s. Thus, longer lives increasing the need for more nursing homes. However, this does not mean you or a loved one must suffer in silence.
If you suspect abuse or neglect, do not accept denials. Instead, contact a knowledgeable lawyer experienced with representing victims. When an abuser injures a resident at a care facility, it is not always obvious what happened and legal liability. The evidence available is often incomplete and may be self-serving for the defendant – the nursing home. This is why a free consultation with us is so important. We have been assisting the injured for 20 years. We help clients from all over the country. Our consultations are completely free. Call today.