The unreported abuse of our elders

| Oct 23, 2019 | nursing home abuse |

Families with elders in Oregon nursing homes often worry about their safety. As several reports have surfaced over the years regarding abuse of the elderly and the disabled, people may feel this concern even more strongly. Over the past few years, CNN published several articles on the abuse of elderly and disabled people in nursing homes, ranging from the sexual abuse of a comatose patient to the misuse of drugs when treating people with dementia.

One of CNN’s most recent articles on the topic covers the underreporting of nursing home abuse. A report cited by the news agency found that abuse accounted for one in every five visits to the emergency room from a nursing home. It also showed that nursing homes often failed to report these and other instances of abuse to local law enforcement and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

During the time period of January 2015 to June 2017, 34,664 Medicare claims were filed for injuries that could potentially point to abuse. After a more in-depth review, inspectors found more concrete evidence of potential neglect or abuse in 89% of these cases. Many of these also went unreported.

In fact, MarketWatch estimates that nursing homes failed to report more than 6,500 cases of potential abuse or neglect in 2016 alone. To make matters worse, elderly people may not report these incidents either. They may fear telling even close friends or relatives and may also refrain from speaking with local law enforcement.

Note that abuse and neglect may hide beneath the cover of certain medical conditions. Some conditions may even lead to incapacitation, which makes patients unable to speak up for themselves. Some may not be fully aware of what is happening to them. This often makes it difficult for family and friends to verify mistreatment and act on their behalf.