Nursing home abuse goes unreported
The Department of Health and Human Services has been investigating cases of nursing home abuse that had never been reported to authorities. An assistant regional inspector general with DHHS, Curtis Ray, found more than one hundred cases of abuse to residents of nursing homes have not been reported to the police. Not only is abuse a crime, but so is letting abuse go unreported. There are currently a number of federal and state laws mandating anyone working in healthcare or related fields to report witnessed or suspected abuse of any vulnerable persons, including residents of long term care facilities such as nursing homes. If they don’t, then they are also culpable.
In a report with NPR, Ray noted that after the instances of abuse that he investigated, employees did not contact the authorities. They simply cleaned up the residents and, "In doing so, they destroyed all of the evidence that law enforcement could have used as part of an investigation into this crime," says Roy.
So far, Roy has uncovered more than one hundred cases of unreported abuse, but the investigation is ongoing and it is likely that more cases will soon emerge. Roy and other investigators are calling attention to the matter now, before filing an official report, in the hopes that drastic changes will be made as soon as possible.
In one instance cited in this article, a case of abuse was only reported by the nursing home staff to the family of the resident a full day after the abuse occurred. The nursing home failed to report the incident to the police. However, once the nursing home knew that the family had contacted the police, they also contacted the police. But the nursing home's actions were in no way altruistic. In order to safeguard their wrongdoing, the Nursing Home told the police department that authorities “did not need to come out to facility to conduct an investigation.”
Signs of abuse to watch out for
The abuse of an elderly person by those responsible for providing care is a despicable act. Our loved ones should never experience abuse at the hands of those whom they trust to care for them. If you are concerned that a loved one might be suffering abuse at the hands of their caregivers, look for these signs:
- Sudden change in your loved one’s behavior (have the become more sullen or withdrawn?): If your once happy, free-spirited loved one suddenly seems unusually sad or afraid of their environment, this might be a sign of abuse. Pay particular attention to how your loved one interacts with the staff. Do they seem to be more withdrawn or timid around specific caregivers?
- Bedsores or other infections: Bedsores are often a result from lying in bed for extended periods of time. These can be common in facilities that do not check on or care for their residents as diligently as they should.
- Bruises, cuts or other unexplainable marks: If your find that your loved one has any bruises or other marks that cannot or will not be explained by the staff, this might be a sign of abuse.
Trust your instinct. Contact The law offices of George S. Johnson. Our lawyers are available to meet for a free consultation.