Nursing Home Abuse Under-Reported Despite Law, Finds Government Audit

DSCN3343-300x225Rhode Island is home to over 80 certified Medicare and Medicaid nursing homes which provide a vital service to elderly and disabled patients. These facilities contain over 8,500 resident beds, 90% of which are full. As an injury law firm advocating for elder abuse victims who have incurred a personal injury in a nursing home, at Tapalian Law we find it unsettling that a recent review by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found 33 states failed to report incidents of potential abuse or neglect in skilled nursing facilities, as required by Federal Law. The probe discovered more than 1 in 4 cases of possible nursing home abuse allegedly went unreported to police.

Federal Law requires immediate notification of instances of physical or sexual abuse against nursing home patients. Nursing homes should be a comfort to residents who need the medical care, daily assistance, and social opportunities offered by these types of facilities. A nursing home shouldn’t be a frightening experience fraught with elderly abuse and neglect. Tapalian Law is a personal injury law firm helping victims of nursing home neglect and abuse and their families. We realize that nursing homes are a critical element in the lives of many Rhode Island residents and provide a vital service to elderly or disabled patients and their loved ones.

Report Findings by Department of Health and Human Services

According to the report by the Officer of Inspector General, Rhode Island did not appear on the list of 33 states with Incidents of Potential Abuse or Neglect in Skilled Nursing Facilities during 2015 and 2016. Nearby Massachusetts and Connecticut were reported with 2 and 1 incident, respectively. The state with the largest number of unreported incidents is Illinois (17), followed by Michigan (13). The audit seeks to serve as an “early communication to those charged with governance or management”, and “may be important because of their relative significance and the urgency for corrective follow-up action”. The audit faults Medicare for failing to enforce the law and determines that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), are not doing enough to ensure that proper measures are taken following incidents of potential abuse or neglect.

Rhode Island General Law- Duty to Report Abuse in Health Care Facilities

Although Rhode Island nursing homes were not cited in the probe, they are of course required to follow the Rhode Island “Duty to Report” Law. In summary, the law states any physician, medical intern, registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, nurse’s aide, orderly, certified nursing assistance, among many other occupations, is required to report within 24 hours, any knowledge of or reasonable cause to believe that, a patient or resident in a facility has been abused, mistreated, or neglected. The report must include information about the person reporting the alleged incident, information regarding the alleged victim of abuse, mistreatment, or neglect, as well as details, observations, and beliefs surrounding the incident. Other specifics are essential including but not limited to, date and time of incident, names of others who may have knowledge of the incident, name of individual who may be responsible for the incident, and more. Rhode Island has numerous statutes and programs to protect elders, including the Elderly Violence Prevention Act and the Citizen’s Commission for the Safety and Care of the Elderly.

Personal Injury Lawyer Helping Victims of Nursing Home Abuse

If you are the child, or spouse, of a Rhode Island nursing home patient and see your loved one’s health or physical condition deteriorate, seek out the guidance of a RI personal injury attorney. Forms of nursing home neglect or abuse can be physical abuse, emotional abuse, financial abuse, abandonment, sexual abuse, and medical malpractice. Caregivers, nurses, and doctors’ responsible for your loved one’s care at the facility should be able to completely explain how any personal injury or other sign of abuse or neglect has occurred to your family member. If they cannot, this may be a sign that your loved one is being neglected and family will want to explore the incident with the nursing home administrator, authorities, and/or a skilled personal injury lawyer. Designated family members of nursing home or assisted living patients should be kept abreast of the care of their loved one, including any falls, wounds, or sickness. Tapalian Law is a personal injury law firm who helps victims and families of nursing home or elderly abuse, seek compensation for their injuries or mistreatment. If you feel your parent, spouse, or loved one has been hurt due to abuse or neglect in a Rhode Island nursing home, contact Attorney David Tapalian today to discuss your possible elder abuse or neglect case. We provide a free consultation for your personal injury case and will let you know if we think you have a viable claim to seek monetary damages. Call us today at


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