Federal Inspector General Finds That Nearly 25% of Nursing Homes Fail to Report Abuse or Neglect Allegations
The United States Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has released its findings related to an investigation surveying approximately 250 nursing home care facilities throughout the United States. While this survey is a small cross-section of all nursing home care facilities within the entire nation, its findings are deeply troubling. The investigative report concluded that only seventy-six percent (76%) of the nursing homes maintained policies that address federal regulations for reporting allegations of abuse or neglect. Additionally, only fifty-three percent (53%) of care facilities actually reported the findings of any investigation completed in response to allegations by residents or their loved ones concerning abuse or neglect at the hands of a care provider at the nursing facility, as federally required.
Of those nursing home facilities complying with their federal requirements of reporting abuse and neglect, a total of 149,313 allegations of abuse or neglect were brought to the attention of the OIG in 2012. Of all these reports, abuse was the most common type of allegation, accounting for half of the allegations in 2012. Even more alarming than the significant number of allegations reported are those that fail to be reported. Very often, when this occurs, the individuals being abused or neglected suffer in silence.
The purposes of these reporting requirements are clear: to ensure the safety of nursing home residents and create a mechanism by which there is complete transparency within the nursing homes when it comes to allegations of abuse and neglect, and any subsequent investigative findings into the allegations. That being said, this study clearly indicates that further measures need to be implemented to ensure complete compliance by all nursing home facilities across the country. The OIG, in this investigative report, recommends that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) guarantee that nursing home facilities:
(1) Maintain policies related to reporting allegations of abuse or neglect;
(2) Notify covered individuals of their obligation to report reasonable suspicions of crimes; and
(3) Report allegations of abuse or neglect and investigation reusults in a timely manner and to the appropriate individuals, as required.