Are Too Many People Keeping Quiet About Nursing Home Abuse?

Are Too Many People Keeping Quiet About Nursing Home Abuse?

A government audit revealed that one in four cases of physical and sexual abuse in nursing homes go unreported due to inadequate Medicare procedures and errors.

Inadequate Medicare Procedures are to Blame

According to the Department of Human Services that investigates abuse, waste, and fraud within the health care system, the inspector general’s office found unreported cases of alleged abuse in 33 different states. Of the unreported cases, approximately four out of five incidents involved alleged or suspected sexual abuse or rape. Illinois had the largest number of unreported incidents with 17, followed by Michigan with 13, Texas with 9, and California with 8.

The government audit states that Medicare is at fault for unreported abuse cases in nursing homes, because they failed to follow and enforce federal laws. All federally-funded nursing home facilities with Medicare patients are required to report cases of alleged abuse and neglect within a two-hour window to facility administrators and local law enforcement, if there are serious bodily injuries. If there are no injuries, alleged incidents must still be reported within 24 hours. In 28 percent of cases, federal investigators found no evidence of reports to law enforcement and no evidence of hospital records for injuries, despite federal and state requirements. Federal laws have been in place for over five years, but investigators found that Medicare has not complied. They now face possible fines of up to $300,000.

One report to local law enforcement revealed an alleged sexual assault on a female resident by a male resident. The woman who had verbal and mobility impairments was taken to a hospital emergency room with two large bruises on her right breast. Prior to taking the woman to the hospital, nursing home staff gave her a bath and changed her clothes, destroying any evidence of the alleged rape. Instead of immediately reporting the incident to local law enforcement as required, nursing home employees reported the incident to the woman’s family the next day. Family members called the police which triggered an investigation.

Investigations show that Medicare, as well as other government agencies, do little to document and track instances of sexual abuse and assault that occur in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Documentation shows that federally-funded nursing homes are slow to investigate and report abuse allegations for a variety of reasons. In some cases, nursing home staff doesn’t believe a resident’s allegations, especially a resident with dementia or other cognitive impairments. In other cases, staff members are fearful of losing their jobs or having their shift hours reduced. Investigations also show that state regulators are slow to react to allegations and fail to flag patterns of repeated abuse by nursing home caregivers. In Illinois, where nursing home abuse rates are the highest, 201 out of 386 recorded allegations of sexual abuse involved facility caretakers.

Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Nevada

State laws and statue of limitations govern personal injury lawsuits and insurance settlements in Nevada. The following guidelines apply:

  • According to the statue of limitations, a personal injury lawsuit must be filed within two years after the date of the injury. Cases filed after the two-year deadline will typically be refused by Nevada courts, the injury claim can be barred from refiling.
  • A Nevada personal injury claim must be filed in civil court, within the jurisdiction where the defendant lives or where the injury occurred. If a case is filed in the wrong county or venue, it can be dismissed. The plaintiff may also be fined by the court.
  • If claimed damages are less than $5,000, the case must be filed in small claims court, a division of the Nevada Justice Court.
  • If claimed damages are a minimum of $5,000, but do not exceed $10,000, the case must be filed in Nevada Justice Court. The Nevada District Court handles claims that exceed $10,000.

The formal process of a Nevada personal injury lawsuit may contribute to a lengthy case. Depending on the nature of the injury, the claimed damages, and cooperation by defendants and insurance companies involved, a personal injury case may take years to resolve. Since each personal injury case is different, there’s no way to predict an exact length of time for a lawsuit from start to finish. Depending on the court’s caseload, it may take up to a year or more for a trial to begin after the initial claim is filed. If appeals are filed after the trial ends, a personal injury case may be prolonged for several years.