Nursing Home Neglect Cases
Sadly, it was recently reported by the Inspector General’s Office of Health and Human Services that Illinois has the highest number of nursing home neglect, sexual abuse and physical abuse incidents out of 33 states polled. The report analyzed 2015-2016 emergency room records from hospitals in 33 states and found that among nursing home residents admitted as patients, 134 of them had injuries consistent with physical abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect. Even more alarming is that in nearly 40% of these cases, the incidents were not reported to local authorities, even though a more than 5 year old Federal law mandates immediate reporting of injuries consistent with elder abuse by all healthcare workers.
The Chicago Law Daily Bulletin expressed concern that the Inspector General’s report concluded that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), “has a lack of safeguards to ensure that incidents of potential abuse or neglect of Medicare patients residing in (nursing homes) are identified and reported.” If Medicare is found guilty of not reporting a known case of nursing home abuse or neglect, Federal law allows for a fine of up to $300,000. Despite this Federal law with a hefty fine, Medicare has still allowed a shocking number of cases to go unreported to authorities.
Although a statement by CMS says that they are committed to investigating all incidents, some nursing homes are still able to avoid punishment over allegations of abuse or neglect by falsification of records, intimidation and scare tactics to deter employees from coming forward when they become aware of elder abuse.
Relatives can report suspected elder abuse or abuse of the disabled ages 18 to 59 Adult Protective Services Hotline: 1-866-800-1409, 24 hours a day For residents who live in nursing facilities, call the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Nursing Home Complaint Hotline: 1-800-252-4343.
For residents who live in Supportive Living Facilities (SLFs), call the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services’ SLF Complaint Hotline: 1-800-226-0768. Take notes before you call and ask your relative to provide a physical description and time of day to pinpoint which of the 3 shifts that staff works on. The alleged victim’s name, address, telephone number, sex, age and general condition;The alleged abuser’s name, sex, age, relationship to victim and condition;
-The alleged abuser’s name, sex, age, relationship to victim and condition;
-The circumstances which lead the reporter to believe that the older person is
being abused, neglected or financially exploited, with as much detail as you
caWhether the alleged victim is in immediate danger, the best time to contact
-Whether the alleged victim is in immediate danger, the best time to contact
the person, if he or she knows of the report, and if there is any danger to the
worker going out to investigate;
-Whether the reporter believes the client could make a report themselves or if
they have impaired memory;
-The name, telephone number and profession of the reporter;
-The names of others with information about the situation;
-If the reporter is willing to be contacted again; and,
-Any other relevant information.
Be aware this information is kept confidential from the alleged perpetrator and facility. Another option relatives have if they suspect their loved one is being mistreated is putting in a surveillance camera in their room. Say your loved one has some bruises, and you are unsure what caused them. Or perhaps your relative’s condition has rapidly worsened and you are unsure if they are getting proper care or simply have a chronic or difficult to treat condition(s). Illinois allows the use of surveillance cameras in nursing home rooms as long as the resident and their roommate consent & the cameras may be turned off when privacy needed such as changing clothes. The cameras can act as an incentive for facility staff to treat residents with dignity and respect as well as provide quality care. However, a surveillance camera is not a substitute for good care, family involvement, or personal monitoring of care. Residents and family members should continue to be as involved as they can be in all aspects of the resident’s life. It is possible that a resident could be treated poorly outside of their room and this may not be recorded on the surveillance camera or it might be recorded on a facility camera if they have ones in the halls and common areas.
Consider involving either the facility’s administrator, director of nursing, social worker, or other trusted staff. Based on their response, you may need advice on next steps to take. Call a personal injury lawyer, today.