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Nursing home abuse often goes unreported to police

Kentucky families who rely on a nursing home facility to provide the daily care of a loved one may be interested to learn that about 25 percent of possible cases of abuse went unreported to police during 2015 and 2016. This is despite the fact that there is a federal law that requires all nursing homes to contact authorities immediately if physical or sexual abuse against a patient is thought to have occurred.

Health and Human Services inspectors analyzed a large number of nursing home abuse cases from 33 states. It was found that 134 cases had records from the emergency room that indicated that physical abuse, sexual abuse or neglect had occurred. In 38 of those cases, the investigators found no evidence that the nursing home reported the incident to local law enforcement authorities.

By law, nursing home personnel are required to immediately report incidents of potential neglect or abuse. If bodily harm occurred, nursing home staff have a window of two hours. Otherwise, they have 24 hours to make a report. If they fail to report the incident, the facility risks fines of up to $300,000. Medicare is also responsible for ensuring that nursing homes report these incidents. However, it has been argued that Medicare does not have adequate procedures to follow up with potential abuse or neglect cases.

The decision to put a loved one in a nursing home can be difficult, especially if the facility cannot be trusted to keep its residents safe. If a nursing home resident suffers serious injuries due to not being properly monitored or as a result of a crime being committed against the resident, the family might want to meet with an experienced attorney to see what recourse might be available.

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