Elder Abuse Remains Underreported, Could Be An Epidemic

It is an unfortunate fact that as medical advances allow people to live longer, more and more people need nursing home care, putting them at risk for abuse and neglect. Even more disturbing than the fact that abuse and neglect is on the rise is the fact that it often goes unreported. National Law Review reports on the disturbing trend of underreported elder abuse as a possible epidemic.

Many seniors rely entirely or in part on Medicare or Medicaid funds to pay for their nursing home care. Nursing homes that receive Medicare or Medicaid funds are required to report incidents of abuse or neglect to local law enforcement authorities. However, this might not be happening according to a recent report.

Currently, the Health and Human Services inspector is conducting an audit of Medicare. Medicare rules stipulate that suspected neglect or abuse of the elderly or disabled need to be immediately reported to law enforcement by hospitals and doctors providing medical care. Failure to do so can result in a fine of up to $300,000. The audit came to the shocking conclusion that Medicare is not enforcing this fine when failure to report neglect or abuse is uncovered.

The auditors reviewed data from 2015 and 2016 containing information from the emergency room visits of elderly nursing home patients. They found that 134 cases of either sexual or physical assault on elderly persons were documented in hospital records. Yet, somehow, 28% of these cases appear to have never been reported to law enforcement agencies. Of that 28%, an overwhelming 80% appear to have been cases where rape or sexual abuse was suspected.

By law, if a resident of a nursing home experiences severe bodily injury, staff are required to report the incident within two hours. If there is no serious bodily injury, reports are required within 24 hours of the incident or discovery of abuse or neglect.

Has your loved one been the victim of abuse or neglect while a patient in a nursing facility? Let the experienced attorneys at the law offices of Schenk Law fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Call us today.