Inadequate Abuse Protections for Nursing Home Residents

Published on December 29, 2017, by Matthew Sharp

Nursing Home Abuse

Inadequate Abuse Protections for Nursing Home Residents

Reports show that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services does not have adequate protections procedures in place to prevent incidents of abuse and neglect in federally-funded skilled nursing facilities. A preliminary report from the Department of Health and Human Services shows numerous problems with the quality of health care, as well as investigations and reporting procedures on abuse and neglect in federally-funded nursing home facilities across the country.

Federally-Funded Nursing Homes

In an effort to prevent elder abuse, the Department of Health and Human Services is conducting an ongoing review of abuse and neglect incidents in skilled nursing home facilities. According to the Social Security Act and state laws, all federally-funded, long-term care facilities are required to report all suspected or alleged incidents committed against residents in their facility. Skilled nursing home facilities must ensure that all allegations of abuse, neglect, mistreatment, and injuries are investigated and reported to the facility administrator within five days. Facility reports must then be submitted to the CMS Survey Agency, as well as one law enforcement agency within the jurisdiction where the facility is located. Failure to report such suspicious activities are subject to civil penalties up to $300,000 and possible exclusion from participation in any federal health care program.

Recent reports reveal that up to 15 percent of facilities did not report alleged incidents of abuse or neglect, and approximately 22 percent of Medicare beneficiaries in facilities experienced some type of adverse event while in the facility. Such events included pressure ulcers, serious falls, skin and internal infections, and medication-induced bleeding. More than 50 percent of residents who suffered harm from these conditions required hospital care and treatment.

In Nevada, a nursing home abuse attorney commonly sees nursing home abuse cases that involve broken bones from falls, infections from unsanitary conditions, and malnutrition and dehydration from neglect. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) investigations show that sanitary conditions vary significantly between facilities. While some facilities receive excellent reports for conditions, others show gross negligence for overall sanitation and cleanliness in facilities.

To prevent elder abuse in federally-funded skilled nursing home facilities, Medicaid Fraud Control Units are set up in 49 states. These specialized units with teams of auditors, investigators, and attorneys are part of the State Attorney General’s office. Their goal is to investigate and prosecute a variety of health care crimes, including patient abuse and neglect, in Medicare-reimbursed facilities across the country.