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Serious Nursing Home Abuse Cases Often Not Reported to Police

Posted on behalf of D'Amico & Pettinicchi, LLC on Sep 07, 2017 in Nursing Home Abuse

empty wheelchairMore than one-quarter of serious cases of nursing home abuse are not reported to the police, according to an alert released by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) in the Department of Health and Human Services.

The findings are part of an ongoing audit by the OIG into the potential abuse and neglect of nursing home residents receiving Medicaid. The alert was released ahead of the final report due to the alarming results. Investigators say corrective action is needed now.

OIG Investigation

OIG investigators compared emergency room records with records of Medicaid nursing home residents to identify residents who have been admitted to emergency rooms for varying forms of abuse and neglect.

Auditors identified 134 cases of potential abuse in 33 states. In 38 of those cases – or 28 percent – there was no evidence the incident was reported to local law enforcement. This is despite federal law mandating that nursing home personnel report incidents involving a suspected crime within a two-hour window if it involves serious bodily injury. If no injury is present, authorities must be notified within 24 hours.

The federal statute has been in place for more than five years. However, investigators found that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has not yet received the proper authority to enforce the reporting requirement. The penalty for failing to report within a timely manner includes a fine of up to $300,000.

Investigators concluded that the CMS was not providing the needed oversight of nursing homes and that its efforts to ensure incidents of abuse and neglect are identified and reported have been inadequate.

Even in the 96 cases that were reported to local police, investigators were not able to determine if they were immediately reported within federal limits.

Furthermore, in one case, investigators found that a nursing home failed to file a report for an elderly woman with verbal and mobility impairments who was taken to the emergency room after allegedly being sexually assaulted in her nursing home.

The report indicated that the facility staff bathed and washed the woman, removing all evidence of the crime. The following day, they notified the woman’s family, who called the police and triggered an investigation.

A separate investigation into the incident also revealed that the facility attempted to prevent law enforcement from investigating the incident.

Although the final report is not expected to be released for another year, investigators recommend the CMS begin taking corrective action now. The OIG suggests that the CMS use procedures similar to those used in the audit to compare Medicare claims for emergency room treatment with claims for nursing home services to identify potential abuse and neglect.

Contact a Trusted Waterbury Nursing Home Abuse Attorney

Although 134 cases seems like a tiny fraction of the 1.4 million elderly adults living in nursing homes in the U.S., auditors note that this is likely only a small fraction of the actual number of abuses that have taken place and have not been identified.

However, no amount of nursing home abuse is ever acceptable. That is why our nursing home abuse attorneys remain committed to fighting for the rights of those who have been harmed while residing in a nursing home.

With decades of experience defending the rights of nursing home residents, we have the skills and experience to help your loved one obtain the justice and compensation he or she deserves for the suffering and harm he or she has endured.

Contact D’Amico & Pettinicchi today for a free, no obligation consultation and review of your claim. We can help you determine your legal options. Because we work on a contingency fee basis, we do not charge legal fees unless you obtain compensation.

Call (866) 848-7077 or complete a Free Case Evaluation form today.