Illinois Leads the Way in Nursing Home Abuse
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.