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Abuse Often Goes Unreported in Illinois Nursing Homes

Elder abuse is a growing problem in Illinois nursing homes and more than 25% of cases are never reported to police. Skilled nursing facilities that fail to protect residents from abuse and neglect are liable for personal injuries and damages their negligence causes.

Legal Responsibilities

Skilled nursing facilities in Illinois that receive funds from Medicare are required to investigate and report all instances of elder abuse. This includes alleged violations of mistreatment, neglect, physical abuse, mental abuse, or financial abuse.

These facilities are required to adhere to state and federal laws regarding reporting procedures. Under current law, they have five days to report their findings to the facility administrator and the State Survey Agency. They are also required to take immediate corrective actions to protect the health and safety of the individual reporting the abuse.

For-Profit Care Comes at a Price

Nursing homes in Illinois often place patient health and safety below the drive for profit. To cut costs and maximize profits, for-profit nursing homes often use poor quality medical supplies, neglect facility maintenance, and fail to provide continuing education for nursing and clinical staff members. In many instances, facilities that report higher profits often have higher incidence rates of assault and elder abuse.

Many for-profit nursing home facilities do not invest in security and consider cameras and security staff extraneous expenses. Moreover, they often provide poor quality food and limit rehabilitation services. These factors can come together to prolong an individual’s recovery following an assault.

The Scope of a Hidden Problem

Regulators are only starting to understand the true depth of nursing home abuse and neglect in the United States. From January 1, 2015, through December 31, 2016, more than 134 Medicare beneficiaries in 33 states were identified as potential victims of abuse and neglect resulting in physical injuries.

It is believed that a significant number of incidents were not reported to law enforcement. Previous studies conducted by the Centers for Medicare/Medicaid Services determined that more than 25% of instances of nursing home abuse and neglect go unreported. These include incidents such as sexual assault, elder neglect, financial abuse, physical assault, and mental abuse.

Each of these forms of elder abuse can have serious consequences. They can negatively impact an elderly patient’s health, diminish their physical and mental capacity, and ultimately, shorten their lifespan.

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