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Report: Citations for abuse issued to 30 percent of all U.S. nursing homes

A recently released national report is bringing attention to the abhorrent living conditions of many nursing homes located across the country, according to ABC News. Although many Illinois families entrust the care and health of their loved ones to the directors of nursing home facilities, a substantial number of nursing homes have been found guilty of employing abusive workers and overlooking hazardous conditions.

The national report, created by the Special Investigations Division of the House Government Reform Committee, found that approximately 5,283 U.S. nursing homes were fined for abusive practices. That equates to 30 percent of all U.S. nursing homes. They also found that from 1999 to 2001, there were nearly 9,000 citations issued for acts of nursing home abuse and neglect.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reports that there are 1,200 nursing home establishments in the state, housing over 100,000 people. In an especially gruesome Chicago nursing home incident, elderly residents were physically restrained, according to ABC News. While this problem occurs nationwide, it really hits home with many Illinois residents.

Types of abuse found

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, nursing home abuse can take many forms, including mental, sexual and physical abuse of an elderly resident. Common types of abuse found by the U.S Department of Health and Human Services during their annual nursing home inspections, included:

  • Malnutrition.
  • Inadequate medical care and neglect, such as untreated bedsores, dehydration and infected wounds.
  • Preventable accidents leading to injured patients.
  • Inadequate hygiene and sanitation.
  • Physical abuse, such as punching, kicking and scratching.
  • Sexually abusive acts, such as molestation.

In some cases, nursing home residents were verbally abused with name calling or coursed into fighting with other residents while employees watched.

Getting to the root of the issue

While there are no acceptable reasons why abusive behavior should ever occur toward another person, lack of funding has been named as a potential factor in the rise of nursing home abuse, as reported by ABC News. Low reimbursement rates from state and federal government agencies, such as Medicaid and Medicare, result in a low-paid staff. This can make it extremely difficult for nursing home facilities to find, train and retain quality staff members.

The CEO of the California Association of Homes & Services for the Aging is in the process of proposing national legislation that would grant nursing homes more funding, mandate minimum staffing requirements, increase the fine amount of citations for abuse and make it easier to find the status of nursing home conditions via the internet.

Nursing home abuse is a growing concern for states across the country. Federal and state officials are taking action to protect those residing in nursing home facilities.

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