Auditors with the U. S. Health and Human Services (HHS) inspector general's office recently issued their findings on the in-depth investigation the HHS conducted.
Sifting through emergency Medicare billing records, the HHS found that 6,600 nursing home abuse cases were not reported in 2016, despite reporting requirements.
Only cases where the nursing home patient could not be treated in the facility and was taken to a hospital emergency room were reviewed by HHS.
In a nursing home or not, older Americans are at risk for abuse.
The National Council on Aging states that 1 in 10 Americans over 60 have experienced some form of elder abuse.
Do you have a family member in a South Florida nursing home or assisted living facility?
Chances are, you do. If you don't yet, you most likely will soon.
In Florida, one in five residents are over 65 years old, a percentage higher than that of any other state.
The advance of medicine and the push for longevity has resulted in an unprecedented population aging in nursing and assisted living facilities.
Some South Florida older residents move to assisted living facilities as part of their retirement plan.
Other Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach families turn to assisted living and nursing facilities when they are unable to provide in-home care.
How is your loved one cared for?
Daily care can run the gamut from attentive to neglectful.
Revenue constraints result in many nursing and assisted living facilities having high patient-to-caregiver ratio and low salaries.
The result can be neglected patients.
Nursing home and assisted living facility neglect is harder to spot but is just as painful as abuse.
Yelling, screaming, failing to provide assistance with bathing, toileting, dressing and grooming are forms of neglect and abuse that usually won't land a nursing home or assisted living resident in an emergency room but can cause just as much distress.
What should you do?
What activities are your loved ones engaged in throughout the day?
Are they clean, well-groomed and nourished or are they disheveled and show signs of dehydration or weight loss?
Do you suspect that your loved one is being given excessive medication or sedatives?
Does your loved one appear to be intimidated by staff?
What if you suspect something isn't right?
You may not be able to put your finger on it, but a trained attorney specializing in nursing home and assisted living facility abuse may be able to pin point abuse or neglect.
Trust Your Instincts and Don't Delay.
The best advice for anyone whose loved one is in a nursing home or assisted living facility is to trust your instincts and don't delay.
In Florida, suspected abuse or neglect may be reported to the Florida Department of Children and Families at 1-800-96-ABUSE or at https://reportabuse.dcf.state.fl.us. As the HHS study concluded, you can't rely solely on the nursing home or assisted living facility to self-report abuse and neglect.
If you have further questions regarding the care and treatment your loved one is receiving in a nursing home or assisted living facility, you can speak with Matthew Waring by email at [email protected] or by text message or phone at Tel:(561)-382-6860. Consultations are free and confidential.