- About one in five incidences of elder abuse or neglect are not being reported, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG).
- Overworked nurses and undertrained health care workers such as aides are most likely to fail in identifying possible incidents of abuse or reporting the dangerous neglect of residents.
- It’s crucial for family members of those residing in skilled nursing facilities to visit loved ones and check-in to see that the quality of care services is being met.
- The mistreatment of nursing home residents occurs too often, and family members can hold health care workers and organizations responsible for their loved one’s injury or death.
Michigan Nursing Homes Do Not Always Report Abuse or Neglect
An estimate from AARP says 84 million Americans will fall into the ‘older individual’ category by 2050 and become dependent on a long-term care provider. With that expected growth will also come the threat of short-staffed and underfunded nursing homes leading to a higher risk of resident abuse and neglect. In June 2019, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) concluded that one in five of these potential events of elder abuse or neglect are not being reported to both local law enforcement and state inspection agencies – although it is required to do so.
The OIG’s audit of nursing home abuse and neglect, dated June 12, 2019, includes these findings:
- Failure to Report: Skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) failed to report many abuse and neglect incidents to Survey Agencies such as the local department of health or Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) per applicable Federal requirements. Several survey agencies also failed to report findings of substantiated abuse to local law enforcement or family members.
- Unreported Resident Abuse and Neglect Leads to Serious Injuries: Incidents of potential abuse or neglect resulted in a variety of resident injuries and were categorized as serious head injuries, bodily injuries, safety concerns, and life-threatening medical issues such as sepsis or medication overdose.
- Recommendations Should Be Actionable: Abuse and neglect should be identified and reported. Facilities need to work with Survey Agencies to improve training for staff on how to identify and report incidents of potential abuse or neglect and make referrals to local law enforcement and other agencies of any substantiated findings.
With the National Center of Elder Abuse reporting as many as 5 million people affected by elder abuse per year in the U.S., more than 95 percent of which go unreported, these kept-quiet failures are only aiding to a growing epidemic in our state as well. 10 Michigan facilities were recently included in a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) report which highlighted over 400 struggling nursing homes that take part in the agency’s Special Focus Facility (SFF) program. This federal program identifies nursing homes known to put residents at risk of abuse, neglect, or injury. Regulators say many more Michigan homes could have made the list had budget cuts to support them not been made.
Our attorneys previously provided the names of those seriously concerning facilities located in Michigan through a blog post found here.
Residents Need Family Members to Help Identify Dangerous Situations
It’s important for family members and friends of those residing in any type of care facility to frequently visit and check-in to see that the quality of services provided are what is expected. If the conclusion is otherwise and any of the signs below are present (provided by the Nursing Home Abuse Center) be sure to report any concerns immediately to the facility administrator, local ombudsmen, and law enforcement if warranted. A nursing home abuse and neglect attorney can also help hold wrongdoers accountable and assist in preventing dangerous care situations to continue operating.
- Unusual behavior in the elderly person that can resemble symptoms of dementia, including mumbling behaviors, sucking one’s thumb, or rocking behaviors.
- Witnessing belittling, controlling or threatening behavior on the part of the caregiver.
- Having unexplained broken bones, dislocations or sprains
- Bruising, scars or welts seen on the body
- Failing to take medications properly
- Signs of restraint, such as rope marks on the elder’s wrist
- Broken eyeglasses
- The refusal of the caregiver to let you be alone with the elderly person
- Unexplained STDs or other genital infections
- Bruising near the genitals or around the breasts
- Stained, bloody or torn underwear
- Vaginal or anal bleeding unrelated to a medical condition
- Leaving the elderly personal alone at risk of wandering or elopement
- Unsafe living conditions, such as a lack of heat, faulty electrical wiring, fire hazards or lack of running water
- Being unsuitably dressed for the weather
- Not bathing the person or leaving them dirty
- Living with soiled bed clothing, dirty clothes, bugs or dirty conditions
- The presence of bedsores from not turning the patient regularly
- Having an unusual loss of weight or dehydration
- Changes in financial status
- Unexplained withdrawals
- Missing money from purse, wallet or room
- Resident unable to make regular purchases
- Personal belongings that go missing
- Unauthorized names added to bank account
- Reluctance to discuss finances
- Request for additional funds
Although inspectors have the job of citing facilities in non-compliance and also prompting investigations on emotional, physical, sexual abuse or potential neglect claims, the agency does depend on nursing home administrators, family members, and care staff to help prevent and report them. The OIG had previously determined that health care workers such as underqualified aides and overworked nurses fail to routinely notice or report dangerous environments for residents.
Nursing home abuse and neglect happens too often and when it does, it should be reported by both employees and family members at the first sign of suspicion.
“We Will Be Right There” To Help You Report Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
There is a time limit in Michigan in which our team of nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys can fight for your loved one’s injustices but we can always be there for you and your family to learn more about your case. There is never a risk in informing us of your situation or a fee to pay unless we win your case. Please contact us at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) for a free phone consultation or visit us online to send our team a message requesting help.