senior at wheelchair, nursing homeA federal government audit found that Illinois leads the country in the total number of nursing home abuse cases. The report recently concluded, examined a period from 2015 to 2016 and found that of 134 cases in which hospitals are treating victims found evidence of physical or sexual abuse or neglect, 17 were from Illinois facilities. Michigan was in second place with 13, followed by Texas with 9, and California with 8. These figures are even more alarming considering that California has more than three-times and Texas more than two times the population of Illinois. Illinois both leads the country in a total number of abuse cases and the number of cases per resident.

Many Cases Go Unreported

The review was conducted by the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services. The audit estimated that 1 in 4 possible cases of abuse (including sexual, physical, and neglect) go unreported to the police. The audit cited Medicare (specifically, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid) for not enforcing the reporting requirements and warned Medicare to take corrective action immediately. In the 134 sampled cases identified by hospitals, the audit found that 38 ( 28 percent) were not reported to the police. Furthermore, of the 38 cases, 75 percent involved suspected rape or sexual abuse.

The audit also found instances in which nursing home personnel destroyed evidence. In one case, a resident was sexually assaulted by another resident and, before taking the victim to the hospital, personnel bathed and changed her clothes which likely destroyed any evidence of the crime.

Reporting is the Law

Nursing homes are required to report suspected cases of abuse to law enforcement. Nursing homes are the first, and often only entity, capable of identifying abuse and preventing it. Families are encouraged to speak with their loved ones as frequently as possible to watch for signs of abuse such as malnutrition, bed sores, and other identifying markers, however; nursing homes are in the best position to act.

Nursing home personnel are required to report incidents within two hours of the suspected event if there is a serious bodily injury or within 24-hours for less severe incidents. Moreover, Medicare is empowered to investigate and force nursing homes to comply. Nursing homes that are not compliant can be fined up to $300,000 by Medicare.

 

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