Woman pushing elderly woman in wheelchair concerned about when nursing home abuse goes unreported

When Nursing Home Abuse Goes Unreported

A recent alert from the Office of Inspector General found that more than a quarter of cases of serious nursing home abuse go unreported, putting our senior citizens at grave risk.

In one recent case, a male resident of a senior care facility allegedly sexually assaulted one of the female residents. The victim suffered serious bruising. Facility employees caught the man in the act and should have reported the incident to the police immediately. Instead, they bathed the victim. According to Curtis Roy, an assistant regional inspector general in the Department of Health and Human Services, “In doing so, they destroyed all of the evidence that law enforcement could have used as part of an investigation into this crime.”

By all appearances, the nursing home was desperate to cover up the crime. Not only did they fail to inform the police immediately, but they didn’t notify the victim’s family until the next day. When the family went to the police, the nursing home contacted the police department to tell them they didn’t need to come to the facility to investigate.

Serious Abuse That Goes Unreported

This incident would be disturbing enough if it were isolated. But in his work with the Department of Health and Human Services, Curtis Roy and his team have found many similar cases.

Between 2015 and 2016, Roy found 134 cases of nursing home abuse serious enough to warrant emergency treatment. Out of these 134 cases, 28 percent went unreported for more than two hours.

Federal law requires that someone who suspects abuse involving serious bodily harm must report that suspicion to the police within two hours or less. Even in cases where serious bodily harm is not present, the requirement is to report it within 24 hours. Nursing homes that fail to report this kind of incident can be fined up to $300,000.

The Department of Health and Human Services doesn’t yet know if the nursing homes responsible for these unreported incidents were fined. Perhaps the most disturbing element of these incidents is that the people hiding them from the police may not even be taken to task for their negligence.

Here in Arizona, complaints about poor elder care and negligent treatment are hard to substantiate. In many cases, it can be difficult to identify the parties responsible for neglect. Furthermore, many abused seniors suffer from conditions, such as dementia, that make them unreliable witnesses.

These facts are particularly unfortunate in the light of a recent study from The Lancet Global Health that found that approximately 1 in 6 older adults experience some form of abuse. With an aging population, problems of elder care and neglect are a serious concern that need to be addressed.

Are You Aware of Unreported Abuse? Call Us for Help

The Khalidi Law Firm has more than 20 years of experience helping injured persons in the Tucson area get the closure they deserve. If you or a loved one has suffered negligence, injury, or abuse in a nursing home or adult care facility, contact our Tucson nursing home injury lawyers at The Khalidi Law firm. Call (520) 629-9909 today for a free consultation.