The decision to place a failing loved one in a long-term care facility is likely not done without careful consideration and reassurances that the individual will receive appropriate care. In the event that an incident of serious nursing home neglect or abuse takes place, the staff are required by federal laws to report it to the proper authorities. According to a recent investigation, Illinois facilities have reportedly failed to notify police in several cases.
While it is unclear as to why the investigation was launched, federal officials took the unusual step of issuing an alert about the serious breech of protocols that have occurred in slightly more than 25 percent of suspected abuse cases. These cases reportedly involved instances of abuse severe enough to require treatment from emergency providers. The vast majority of those cases were comprised of suspected sexual assault.
In one example, a resident suffered serious bruising caused by such an assault. According to investigators, staff members cleansed the resident and did not notify police within the mandated 2-hour window. The administration did inform family the following day, and they filed a report. In cases where the abuse is not considered serious, nursing homes are required to notify law enforcement within 24 hours. Of the suspected 134 cases that were not properly reported, Illinois purportedly failed to follow federal regulations in 17 cases.
All of the cases that the investigation determined had not been properly handled were reported to the appropriate authorities. Facilities that do not report suspected cases of nursing home neglect or abuse that involves serious injury can be fined up to $300,000. Families who fear that their loved one has suffered an injury or worsening health due to neglect are entitled to contact proper officials. They are also assured of the right to contact an attorney who may assist them in seeking compensation for the monetary damages that may also have been sustained.
Source: npr.org, “Serious Nursing Home Abuse Often Not Reported To Police, Federal Investigators Find“, Ina Jaffe, Aug. 28, 2017