A recent series of articles in Minnesota’s Star Tribune entitled Left to Suffer reveals that although nursing home abuse is a widespread, investigations are limited.
According to the articles, in a single state, thousands of reports of nursing home abuse are not investigated and remain pending. State officials in Minnesota responded to the report, saying they do not have the staff or funding to conduct investigations in all cases.
The Star Tribune series says there were more than 25,000 reports of abuse, neglect, theft, and other injuries reported in the state in 2016 – 97 percent of the cases were not investigated, however.
Further, says the report, nursing home investigations that are conducted can take months. Delays make it hard to prosecute those accused of perpetrating the abuse and also to levy fines against facilities where the abuse occurred. This is because those who were abused often suffer from dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other issue that makes it difficult for the victim to remember the incident.
Minnesota has been cited for nursing home abuse for the past two years by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services; however, reports the Star Tribune, only two nursing homes have lost their licenses over the past five years out of approximately 1,800 in the state.
Nursing home abuse is only expected to become a larger problem as the baby boomer generation moves into their senior years.
Frustratingly, families often place seniors in homes because they believe they will receive better care than they could provide.
Further, the cost of placing a family member in a nursing home facility can be a great burden for the family.
Additionally, many seniors go into care under tax payer supported programs like Medicare and Medicaid.
Recently, U.S. legislators and federal agencies have been sounding the alarm about this issue. Unfortunately, much of the abuse goes unreported and nursing home investigations barely scratch the surface of negligence and harm in facilities.
Nursing Home Abuse Investigations
The Star Tribune describes a number of terrible incidents, including physical and mental abuse, as well as neglect and sexual abuse. In some cases, solitary confinement, a punishment usually reserved for those in correctional facilities, was used on elderly dementia patients who were left in cold, dark rooms for extended periods of time.
While the report in the Star Tribune did not provide information about nursing home abuse in states other than Minnesota, the state does not appear to be an outlier.
Federal agencies have been asked by Congress to address the condition of nursing homes in the nation recently. Senator Orrin Hatch demanded an explanation from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regarding nursing home conditions in September 2017.
If your loved one suffered nursing home abuse, contact the attorneys at McDonald Worley to help evaluate your claim and protect your legal rights.