According to a report released by the Department of Health & Human Services, an audit recently faulted the Medicare system for failing to enforce federal laws requiring immediate notification of possible sexual and physical abuse. In the report, Illinois had the largest number of incidents (at 17 overall) during the two year-span of the audit, from 2015-2016. Michigan followed with 13 incidents, Texas had 9, and California had 8, according to the inspector general’s auditors, who used investigative data analysis techniques to identify the cases through hospital emergency room records.
The HHS audit revealed a total of 134 cases in emergency room records that indicated possible abuse, yet in 28% of the cases (38 total incidents), there was no evidence that law enforcement had been notified of the incident, according to hospital records. Nursing homes are required by federal law, as well as certain state and local laws, to report any incidents of a suspected crime promptly. If there is bodily injury, the facility must notify law enforcement within two hours. If there is no serious bodily injury involved, they are required to report the suspected crime within 24 hours. What’s more, of the 96 cases that were reported to law enforcement, the investigators were not able to clearly define if they were reported within the federally mandated “prompt notification” windows.
For the families of the 1.4 million people in the U.S. who are living in nursing homes, this report is yet another indication that we should be concerned about the treatment of our loved ones who are in elder care facilities. Despite the laws requiring immediate notification of abuse, it is clear that not all facilities are following the rules, and residents are suffering as a result.
Based on the results of this audit, the inspector general has urged Medicare, which covers medical care and doctor’s services for the disabled and elderly, to review computerized billing records to identify more instances of abuse and to take immediate steps to remedy its procedures to identify and report incidents within the federally mandated windows.
To learn more about this audit and the findings of the Department of Health & Human Services audit, read more at the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. If your loved one has suffered abuse in a nursing home, or if the abuse was not reported in a prompt manner according to federal law, you do not have to let these failures stand. An experienced nursing home abuse lawyer of Spiros Law, P.C. can help you take action to hold the nursing home staff and facility accountable for their actions and can help you seek the compensation your loved one deserves.