Nursing homes across the country have faced many allegations of abuse and negligence. Thousands of elderly Americans have suffered because of bedsores, fractures, improper medication, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and financial abuse.
Nursing facilities are expected to investigate complaints of abuse and neglect and maintain proper documentation of complaints. But in many cases, they fail to do that.
A recent audit by the Office of the Inspector General under the U.S Department of Health and Human Services revealed that the state of North Carolina didn’t ensure that nursing facilities was reporting abuse and neglect for Medicaid beneficiaries. They also didn’t make investigating the allegations a priority.
Several Gaps in NC Medical Services
According to the OIG report, there were several gaps in the way in which North Carolina handled abuse and negligence claims. It was revealed that the state didn’t:
- Ensure nursing facilities report abuse in the case of Medicaid beneficiaries who were moved from nursing homes to hospital ERs.
- It didn’t prioritize allegations of abuse that were reported, or correctly report dates, thus violating federal norms in part.
- Its complaint and incident report mechanisms didn’t improve health and safety of nursing home residents and others receiving health care services.
The OIG analyzed 114 hospital claims for ER visits by Medicaid nursing home residents in 2016. These claims all indicated that the residents might have been neglected or abused. Then it compared this data to check whether the nursing homes had in fact reported such abuse to the necessary authorities in the state, and whether the state had taken the required steps to investigate and record these allegations.
Not an Isolated Survey
The OIG has a series of reports which deal with the subject matter of abuse and neglect of the country’s vulnerable populations- of which the elderly and nursing home residents form a major part.
These surveys check whether:
- Nursing homes are reporting serious cases of abuse and neglect of residents on Medicaid.
- Whether they are following state and federal rules while investigating complaints.
- Whether they have an effective complaint and report program.
These reports point to a very serious and pervasive problem that is affecting the nation’s nursing homes. Almost a million elderly people live in nursing homes across the U.S. Clearly, nursing home abuse and neglect is an issue that needs to be prioritized.
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Future Steps that North Carolina Should Take
The report recommended that North Carolina take strong steps to improve the situation. It suggested that the state should work with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to better guide nursing homes as to:
- What incidents of negligence and abuse are reportable.
- When to prioritize incident reports even if investigations aren’t complete.
- How to enter the dates of receipt of incident reports into the automated tracking system of the CMS.
- How to manage employee absences to ensure that procedures are followed in a timely manner.
Further Steps You Can Take
If you have a loved one in a nursing home, you need to ensure that they are safe and healthy, and that any complaints about negligence and abuse are handled in the appropriate manner. Elderly people who are abused have a 300% higher risk of dying that those who are not abused. It is crucial to take care of elders in nursing homes.
This is especially more important as COVID-19 ravages nursing homes. The pandemic has also highlighted the negligence of several nursing homes, which didn’t follow guidelines to protect their residents. As a result, the death toll at nursing homes due to COVID-19 has been staggeringly high.
If you suspect that a loved one is being mistreated in a nursing home, don’t wait to take action. Legal issues surrounding nursing homes are complicated, and you must ensure that you have all the required information to make the right decision for your loved one.
We at Pintas & Mullins have over 35 years of experience dealing with nursing home abuse cases nationwide. We can offer you the legal advice and guidance you need. Contact us today for a free case consultation. You don’t pay anything unless we secure compensation on your behalf. We are here for you 24/7.