Recent data reveals that one of society's most vulnerable demographics, the elderly, are being abused at staggering rates. And this abuse, in all of its forms, is being inflicted in the very place that promises to offer them protection. According to a new audit by the Department of Health and Human Services, more than one in four cases of possible physical and sexual abuse committed against nursing home patients is going unreported to police. With approximately 1.4 million people in nursing homes nationwide, this is a significant concern. Researchers deemed Illinois as the state with the most unreported crimes in the nation.
The blame for nursing home abuse and the voicelessness of abused patients has been shifted among workers, state agencies, and medical professionals. But the “early alert” on preliminary findings in the new audit, which is a part of an ongoing investigation, offered a fresh perspective and remedy for this ongoing issue. Federal inspectors condemned Medicare for the lack of reported misconduct, claiming that a law requiring the immediate notification of abuse would drastically deter such behavior. The report faults the federal program for having “inadequate procedures to ensure that incidents of potential abuse or neglect of Medicare beneficiaries residing in [nursing homes] are identified and reported.” As a result of these findings, the inspector general has demanded that federal program Medicare, Illinois, and 33 other states initiate corrective action immediately.
Auditors identified 134 cases of emergency records that pointed to apparent signs of physical abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect of nursing home patients. The incidents occurred throughout a two-year span (from 2015 to 2016). The report revealed that 17 cases occurred in Illinois, 13 in Michigan, 9 in Texas, and 8 in California. None of these cases were reported to local law enforcement.
In the wake of the report, Medicare has stood by its previous sentiments that nursing home safety is a priority. Program officials claim that it will wait until all findings are gathered and the report is released in its entirety to comment further. State officials, however, expressed great concern about the state of nursing homes in their vicinities. Iowa Senator Charles Grassley has put immense pressure on Medicare to modify its regulations.
“A crime is a crime wherever it takes place,” Grassley said. “It's unacceptable for more than one-fourth of potential crimes in nursing homes to go unreported.”
To put the enormity of this issue in context, the number of nursing home residents is expected to grow exponentially in the next few years. All due to this report, the American Health Care Association - a major nursing home industry group - has said that it has emphasized the need for workers to take allegations of any form of abuse to local law enforcement.
Experienced Illinois Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys
If you believe that your loved one has been subject to nursing home abuse, you should immediately consult with a knowledgeable attorney. The legal professionals at Benassi & Benassi are dedicated to fighting for the rights of the elderly. Don't hesitate to contact us today.