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Many incidents of nursing home abuse go unreported

Worcester families who decide that they must place a loved one in a nursing home so the person can receive proper care will expect that there be a certain standard applied. Unfortunately, it is disturbingly common for there to be allegations of nursing home abuse or negligence against nursing home staff. These acts can range from theft to intimidation to physical, emotional and sexual abuse and more. Those who have a loved one who has been mistreated or abused have the right to seek compensation in a personal injury case.

A problem that often hinders a family's ability to seek compensation is not knowing about the abuse. A report released by the Office of the Inspector General in the Department of Health and Human Services states that in more than 25 percent of nursing home abuse cases, law enforcement is not contacted despite the legal requirement that this be done in such incidents. Nursing home abuse can send a resident to the hospital, but certain incidents elucidate the point that these go unreported. One woman was bruised after suffering a sexual assault, but the facility did not tell the police. Instead, they cleaned the woman and contaminated any evidence that law enforcement might have accrued. The family was told and they contacted the police. The nursing home is said to have tried to cover up the incident.

Records between 2015 and 2016 showed that there were 134 incidents of abuse in which residents were sent to emergency rooms. Most involved sexual assault. These occurred in 33 states. Seventy-two percent were reported to police. That leaves 28 percent that were not. The Inspector General's office wants more regulation by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The law regarding residents who were seriously injured was changed in 2011 so telling law enforcement must be done within two hours. Without serious injury, it must be done within 24 hours. Fines can reach $300,000 if this is not done. Enforcement has been lacking.

Because this is so prevalent a problem and can cause substantial damage to elderly and infirm residents of a nursing home, it is imperative that the family keep a close eye on their family member to make certain there are no signs of mistreatment, lack of care and abuse. If it does happen and there are injuries or death, it could be the basis of a legal filing. Discussing a case with an attorney who understands the rights of nursing home residents can help with filing a case.

Source: npr.org, "Serious Nursing Home Abuse Often Not Reported To Police, Federal Investigators Find," Ina Jaffe, Aug. 28, 2017

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