Audit: 1 in 4 Nursing Home Abuse Cases Go Unreported to Police
Nursing home abuse will become a more significant problem as the population ages.
More than one in four cases of possible nursing home abuse against patients were not reported to police according to the preliminary findings of a government audit.
The findings, issued by the HHS inspector general’s office, blamed Medicare for not enforcing the federal law that requires nursing homes to notify local police agencies within 24 hours of a suspected crime, according to the Associated Press.
Medicare “has inadequate procedures to ensure that incidents of potential abuse or neglect of Medicare beneficiaries residing in [nursing homes] are identified and reported,” investigators said.
Between 2015 and 2016, auditors identified 134 cases where emergency room records indicated possible sexual or physical abuse or neglect. In 38 of those cases, auditors found no evidence in hospital records that police had been notified.
Of those 38 unreported cases, around 80 percent involved alleged or suspected rape or sexual abuse.
Despite the federal reporting requirement, which can lead to fines as high as $300,000, investigators found Medicare has not enforced the law.
Medicare is waiting for the full report to be released before responding, but said preventing nursing home abuse is a high priority.
The cases took place in 33 states overall, with the highest number of incidents coming in Illinois (17), Michigan (13), Texas (9) and California (8).
“We hope that we can stop this from happening to anybody else,” HHS Inspector General’s Office Audit Manager Curtis Roy says.
The 24 hour Medicaid reporting law was instated more than five years ago.
The preliminary nursing home abuse findings are part of a wider investigation and additional findings are expected to be released in the coming months.
Around 1.4 million people live in nursing homes around the country, and that number is expected to grow dramatically in the coming years.