A quarter of abuse cases involving nursing home residents in the U.S. go unreported and procedures currently in place to handle these matters are “inadequate,” according to the Office of Inspector General (OIG) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The ongoing review identified 134 cases of potential nursing home abuse that were never reported to police. Eighty percent of those cases involved alleged or suspected sexual abuse, including rape.
Curtis Roy, OIG’s Assistant Regional Inspector General for Audit Services says the data shows that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) didn’t have the adequate controls in place to detect potential signs of abuse or neglect. The federal agency is not required to identify cases of neglect and CMS officials confirmed they are not identifying these cases, he adds.
But OIG’s audit did find 38 cases about which nursing homes, by law, should have contacted local law enforcement but failed to do so. “They all need to have accountability, or they won’t be responsible at all,” Roy says.
When cases go unreported, the public never learns whether they are admitting their family member into a home where abuse or neglect has occurred.
Last year, CMS issued new guidelines designed to offer more transparency by requiring long-term care facilities to remove forced arbitration agreements in their new resident contracts in order to receive reimbursements for patient care. This would have given residents and their family members the right to a trial by jury in the event of elder abuse, neglect or even wrongful death. But, the nursing home industry is fighting this measure, arguing that keeping these matters with an arbitrator keeps costs down for the nursing home.
Source: CBS 12