Nearly a third of the 17,000 nursing homes in the U.S. were cited for instances of abuse over a two-year period from January 1999 to January 2001, according to a newly released congressional report. The abuse and neglect most often seen included untreated bedsores, inadequate medical care, malnutrition, dehydration, preventable accidents, and inadequate sanitation and hygiene.
More than 1,600 cases of nursing home abuse involved violations that were serious enough “to cause actual harm to residents or to place the residents in immediate jeopardy of death or serious injury,” the report stated.
The report includes cases of physical and sexual abuse to residents by staff members, such as situations where residents were punched, slapped, choked, or kicked by a staff member or other residents. Alarmingly, the rate of nursing home abuse appears to be on the rise, with the percentage of nursing homes cited for violations increasing every year since 1996.
“What we found is shocking,” says Rep. Henry Waxman, who instructed the Special Investigations Division of the House Government Reform Committee, on which he sits, to conduct the study. Waxman said he plans to introduce a bill this week aimed at improving skilled nursing care across the country through increased funding, setting minimum staffing limits, increasing internet disclosure of nursing home conditions, and imposing new levels of fines.
“Unless we are willing to pay nursing homes enough to do their job, intolerable incidents of abuse and other types of mistreatment will continue to persist,” he said. “The bottom line is clear: Something clearly needs to be done to improve nursing home conditions. It would have been intolerable if we had found a hundred cases of abuse; it is unconscionable that we have found thousands upon thousands.”
Source: ABC News