With the release of its latest report, the Department of Health and Human Services has listed nursing home oversight as one of its top priorities. Increasing accounts of rampant fraud, abuse, and neglect continue to plague the industry and harm the residents within nursing home facilities.
HHS’s Office of Inspector General (the agency’s watchdog) ranked nursing home oversight as its 7th priority in 2013 and in the most recent report it was ranked as number 5 (Challenge 5: Ensuring Quality in Nursing Home, Hospice, and Home- and Community-Based Care). The Inspector General has identified various problems in nursing home and hospice care facilities including the number of preventable incidents caused by poor care, lack of compliance with abuse and neglect reporting requirements, and lack of prospering resident monitoring.
As the elderly population of the United States continues to increase, the number of adults in elder care facilities also continues to increase. In 2000, a major study interviewed 2,000 nursing home residents and found that 44 percent claimed they had been abused and 95 percent said they had been neglected or seen another resident neglected. However, it is well known that most cases of abuse go undetected and it is believed that only 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse is brought to the attention of the authorities. The numbers are even higher amongst institutionalized women and those with disabilities. Highlighting HHS’ priority listing of nursing home oversight is the fact that state mandated nursing home surveys underestimate the problem of neglect or abuse. Nearly one third of nursing homes were cited for federal violations and 1 in 10 had violations that resulted in serious injury or death to residents. Seventy percent of state surveys miss a deficiency in a licensed facility and 15 percent actually miss harm that resulted in the immediate danger of a resident. Finally, 50 percent of nursing home staff admitted to abusing residents.
South Carolina Nursing Home Abuse Law
South Carolina Code § 43-35-5 (Adult Protection) is the state code that governs any mistreatment of elderly persons. This includes physical abuse, sexual abuse, domestic violence, financial abuse, psychological abuse, and neglect. The South Carolina Adult Protective Services, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control, and the Lieutenant Governor’s Office on Aging are the three primary bodies of state authority that provide oversight of nursing homes.
If you believe a loved one is suffering abuse or neglect in their nursing home, hospice, or long-term care facility, there is recourse. It is important you reach out to an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer because very often the contracts residents are forced to sign upon entry can make it very difficult to pursue litigation against the facility. In the meantime, try to find and document as much physical evidence as possible that shows any sign of abuse or neglect. Because nursing home abuse can lead to pain, suffering, serious injury, and even death, it is important you act quickly. With the help of an experienced attorney, you may be able to not only find better care for your loved one but receive compensation for the injuries suffered and additional medical care they might need.
Speak with an Experienced Attorney
The complexities of nursing home contracts in South Carolina makes it incredibly important that you hire an experienced attorney who can walk you through the contract and the facts of your case so that you may hold the abusers accountable for their actions.