The increase in nursing home abuse in the United States is very disturbing. What is even more alarming is that more than 25 percent of serious cases of nursing home abuse are never reported to the authorities. This is according to the federal government’s own study of the problem.
In 2017, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) in the Department of Health and Human Services conducted an audit to determine how many Medicaid recipients who lived in nursing homes were potential victims of nursing home abuse and neglect. As part of their investigation, the OIG examined data of the emergency room records of nursing home residents who were covered by Medicaid. Investigators used these records to try to identify which emergency room visits were the result of abuse or neglect.
Investigators identified 134 emergency room visits spread out through 33 states that were potentially caused by nursing home abuse. In 38 of those incidents, there was no record that law enforcement or any other protective agency was notified of the potential abuse. Federal law requires that if any nursing home resident sustains a serious injury and abuse or neglect is suspected, the incident is supposed to be reported to authorities within two hours. If there is no injury present but abuse or neglect is still suspected, the incident is supposed to be reported to authorities within 24 hours.
Federal Reporting Mandate
This federal reporting mandate has been in place for several years. The penalty for failing to report abuse includes fines of up to $300,000. The federal agency in charge of oversight and enforcement of the law is the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Yet, the OIG investigation found that this agency was not given property authority to enforce this regulation.
Contact a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
While this investigation may only seem to be a small window into the number of nursing home residents in this country, it actually provides accurate insight into the number of nursing home abuse victims there are. Multiple studies have concluded the same problem. A study by the National Research Council found that only one in 14 cases of elder abuse gets reported. Another study by the Associated Press found that in one year, almost 7,000 cases of nursing home abuse and neglect were never reported to police.
Nursing home abuse is often unreported because victims are afraid of what will happen if they do file a report. They are often threatened by their abusers that something will happen to them or their loved ones. If you suspect your elderly loved one has been a victim of abuse or neglect, contact a lawyer, like a nursing home lawyer from Darrell Castle and Associates, PLLC, for assistance.