Nursing Home Abuse Report Exposes Glaring Underreporting Issues

| September 20, 2017 | Comments (0)

Nursing Home Abuse Underreported

A new government audit that came out late last month has revealed that over 1 in 4 sexual and physical abuse acts at nursing homes across the country go unreported to law enforcement. The report faults Medicare for doing nothing to enforce federal law, which requires immediate reporting of suspected physical and sexual abuse to relevant authorities.

The report—originating from office of Health and Human Services—sampled cases in over 30 states, with the audit manager stating that they hoped the report would stop these acts from happening to anyone else. This “early alert” report is only part of a much bigger, ongoing probe whose findings will be released at a later date.

Federal statute requires prompt reporting of abuse occurring at nursing homes, but the report revealed that this is being poorly enforced. The statute states that these homes may be liable for fines of up to $300,000 for failure to report such incidents. In addition, these reports must be made within two hours after the occurrence of the incident if there was a serious bodily injury, and 24 hours for non-serious injuries.

The report goes on to state that Medicare currently has inadequate reporting procedures, which are supposed to ensure that potential neglect or abuse incidents perpetrated against individuals residing in nursing homes and receiving Medicare are reported once identified. It is estimated that 4 out of the 5 unreported cases involved sexual abuse or rape. The report stated that Illinois has the highest abuse statistics in the country, followed by Michigan, Texas, and California, in that order.

Senator Speaks Out on Nursing Home Abuse Underreporting

Sen. Charles Grassler (R-Iowa), unhappy over the results of the report, said that he would push for Medicare to act immediately, and that a crime was a crime wherever it took place. He added via his statement that it was unacceptable for more than 40 percent of potential nursing home crimes to fly under the radar as far as reporting is concerned.

The inspector general suggested that Medicare look into automatically generated billing records and then match these with nursing home records. This way, they could spot injuries which residents would receive treatment for which could signal possible neglect or physical or sexual abuse.

Nursing Home Population Expected to Grow

Medicaid is the major payer for assisted living care in the country, and with more people living to their 80’s and 90’s, many people are expected to enter nursing home facilities in the next few years. As a result, it is important that state agencies and healthcare stakeholders such as the American Health Care Association work closely with relevant authorities to ensure nursing home safety.

There are currently over 1.5 million individuals living in nursing homes across the country. Due to this various reasons, quality issues crop up from time to time, but this is no excuse for nursing homes to fail in their legal (and moral) obligation to accurately report instances of abuse to the proper authorities.

Taking Abusing Nursing Homes to Task

Nursing home abuse is a serious concern for Texans. Elder abuse can go unreported for a long time, jeopardizing the health of individuals who may already be vulnerable due to health issues. Even if criminal charges are never pursued by authorities, its important to note that you have the right to hold a nursing home responsible for their actions (or inaction) by way of a civil claim.

Sometimes, bringing a nursing home abuse lawsuit is the only way to enact change, and often helps raise awareness and stop abuse from happening to others. If your loved one has suffered from abuse at a Texas nursing home, give me a call at 214-651-6100 to learn more about your family’s legal options.


Category: In The News

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