Did you know that if a nursing home suspects there has been a crime involving bodily injury to one of its residents, it’s required to call the police within two hours? This federal regulation was put into effect over five years ago to help prevent the abuse of nursing home residents. So, why are so few nursing homes actually following this regulation?
ARE FACILITIES PROPERLY PROTECTING NURSING HOME RESIDENTS?
Health and Human Services conducted an investigation that looked at possible cases of sexual/physical abuse in nursing homes across 33 states. Inspectors were surprised to learn that in 1 out of 4 of these cases, the suspected abuse was not reported to police. Even worse, in cases that were reported to police, there was rarely any indication if police received notification within the federally mandated two-hour window.
In one case, an elderly woman who was allegedly sexually assaulted by a fellow resident was sent to the ER. Nursing staff then contacted the woman’s family the next day, and after the family called the police, the facility called the law enforcement to discourage an investigation. Not only did police continue the investigation, they also discovered that the victim had been bathed after the incident and before being sent to the hospital. Such actions could have actually destroyed evidence detectable by a rape kit.
Under reporting, and incidents like the one described above make it very clear that families and loved ones hold the greatest power in protecting our seniors. With around 1.4 million people living in nursing homes around the country, and that number is expected to climb, we have to take extra steps to ensure the quality of care in these facilities.
For now, HHS is urging Medicare to look at its records to root out unreported assault cases, however, families can take action too. If you suspect that your loved one is being abused or neglected, you should call the authorities and contact an attorney.