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Abuse and Neglect in Nursing Homes Often Goes Unreported


When someone is injured in a nursing home, the nursing home is required to report the incident to federal authorities. Many nursing homes, however, elect not to do this in direct violation of federal requirements. These nursing homes often rely on federal money paid out of Medicare or Medicaid in order to survive.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has reported serious compliance issues as recently as June of 2019. These included situations that were serious enough for patients to be removed from the nursing care facility and taken directly to the hospital. The report indicated that 6,600 such events were not reported but the number is likely to be much higher.

18% of Major Medical Incidents Were Not Reported

Of the 37,600 instances of a nursing care patient being rushed to the emergency room for treatment, 6600 were never reported to Medicare. This is about 18% and shows that nursing homes are not complying with federal standards.

In these cases, the federal government has two remedies at its disposal. The first is to slap a nursing home with fines. The second is cut off its Medicare support completely. In the case of the latter, the nursing home would, essentially, go bankrupt. However, the fines levied against nursing homes are usually so small that they can be rolled into the cost of doing business.

Additionally, when a nursing home fails in its duty of care to provide its patients with a reasonable standard of care, the nursing home can be sued for millions of dollars by an injured patient. In cases where the nursing home fails to report the incident, they can be fined, yes, but it won’t be for millions of dollars. In other words, in cases where neglect, abuse, negligence, or malpractice are a key issue, the nursing home benefits from paying the fine rather than accurately reporting the incident.

Vulnerable People are Often too Afraid to Speak Up

If you’re old and in recovery after a serious medical event, you’re in an extremely vulnerable position. It’s hard to believe that anyone would take advantage of someone in that position, but people do and it happens more frequently than you would imagine. Patients are physically, sexually, or emotionally abused and other times, simply neglected.

In the case of neglect, it may come down to a staffing issue. Nursing homes overburden their staff by hiring fewer than would be reasonable to care for patients. Patients then get bed sores, aren’t cared for properly, and get serious infections as a result of that neglect.

However, there is broad confusion as to what must be reported. Cases of adverse medical incidents do not have to be reported unless there is evidence of neglect. The nursing home is left to volunteer this information to Medicare and hence are given the power to police themselves.

Talk to a Vero Beach Nursing Home Abuse Attorney

If you or someone you love was injured as the result of malpractice, abuse, or neglect, the Vero Beach nursing home abuse attorneys at Vocelle & Berg, LLP can help you fight back. Talk to us today to set up a free consultation.