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Acts of Abuse or Neglect in Nursing Homes can be a Federal Offense

In 1986, a study that would evaluate the quality of care in U.S. Medicare and Medicaid nursing homes was conducted by the Institute of Medicine due to a request by the U.S. Congress. The study revealed that residents (elders, children and young adults with severe disabilities) were often neglected, abused, and provided with sub-par care, thus, the so many cases of bedsores, pressure ulcers, injuries due to slip and falls, sudden weight loss, dehydration and malnutrition, many of these ending in serious injuries and a number of wrongful deaths.

Those who commit acts of abuse and negligence in nursing homes can be charged with a federal crime because these acts run in contrast to the stipulations of the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, which mandates nursing home facilities that receive payment from Medicare and Medicaid, to:

  • Provide services and activities that will help attain or maintain the highest possible physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being of every resident in accordance with a written plan of care; and,
  • Ensure that residents are free from corporal punishment, involuntary seclusion and all forms of abuses, including, but not limited to, verbal, physical, mental abuse, and sexual abuse.

Besides these two mandates, the Act also addresses other issues, including sufficiency of staffing, individual patient assessment, and assurance of hygiene and nutrition; it also establishes the “Residents’ Bill of Rights acts of abuse or neglect can be a federal offense,” which is a list of rights that will empower residents in the face of neglect and/or abuse.

Records from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for 2014 show a little above 15,000 certified nursing home facilities in the U.S. and about 1.5 million residents and patients. Having more facilities should be an advantage as this will mean more places for elderly services. However, with 90% of all nursing homes lacking the required number of staff, as per the American Association for Justice records, this would be a cause of major concern considering the fact that it is in understaffed nursing home facilities where instances of abuse and neglect are widespread.

Families with loved ones in nursing homes should know that acts of abuse or neglect can be a federal offense. Any sign that their loved one is experiencing an act of cruelty while under the care of a nursing facility, they should never hesitate in pursuing legal action against the liable party. To learn more about negligence in nursing homes, the rights of victims and how victims can pursue justice and compensation, click here:

Rick Coleman+