NPR reported that serious cases of abuse and neglect are never reported to law enforcement. More than 25% nursing home abuse are not reported according to an alert released by the Office of Inspector General in the Department of Health and Human Services. The vast majority of the cases involved sexual assault.
That is an incredible stat considering that state and federal law require that serious cases of abuse in nursing homes be turned over to the police. The alert notes that federal law on this issue was strengthened in 2011. It requires someone who suspects abuse of a nursing home resident causing serious bodily injury, to report their suspicion to local law enforcement in two hours or less.
Government investigators are conducting an ongoing review into nursing home abuse and neglect. These are cases of abuse severe enough to send someone to the emergency room. The only explanation for failing to report is that the facility is trying to cover up the abuse and avoid accountability.
The alert from the Inspector General’s office says that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which regulate nursing homes, need to do more to track these cases of abuse. The alert suggests that the agency should do what Curtis Roy’s investigators did: cross-reference Medicare claims from nursing home residents with their claims from the emergency room. Investigators were able to see if an individual on Medicare filed claims for both nursing home care and emergency room services. Investigators could then see if the emergency room diagnosis indicated the patient was a victim of a crime, such as physical or sexual assault.