September 10, 2013

Certain Areas in the Country Not Thoroughly Investigating Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Cases

by Levin & Perconti

A very alarming problem that has been discovered in connection with the investigation of nursing home abuse and neglect is that in certain areas the investigations are conducted in an indifferent manner and the charges and investigations are quickly dropped without any action being taken against the accused. Specifically, the State of California has been found to be particularly dismissive and cursory in their investigation of nursing home abuse in recent years.

According to the Center for Investigative Reporting, the Department of Public Health in California ordered close to one thousand pending nursing home abuse and neglect cases to be dismissed, back in 2009, when the department realized how backlogged they had become with respect to these types of investigations. While the Department attempted to do this quietly and under the radar, certain people that were aware that this occurred have recently come forward to warn the public of this serious situation.

In 2009 when these cases were dismissed, the dismissal was happening as quickly as a single phone call to end an entire investigation. Unfortunately, this was not just a one-time “solution” to the backlog and now, several years later, reported instance of abuse cases are still being opened and closed very quickly, without proper investigation into the allegations. Many nursing home staff accused of sexual abuse have retained their licenses without even a proper investigation into the allegations. All reported cases are required to be reviewed by headquarters and no one may even go out and investigate the nursing home until they are given permission to do so. This results in very few actual investigations and many negligent and abusive nursing home workers not only getting away with what they have done but also leaving the abusive staff unaccountable and able to continue their terrible behavior.

Several former employees, that had been involved in investigations prior to the mass dismissal, have since left and are speaking out about how the state is no longer offering protection to the elderly that are suffering serious neglect or abuse at the hands of those supposed to be caring for them. The former employees said that there were drawers filled with uninvestigated complaints, that headquarters were forcing old complaints and investigations to be closed, that many case notes simply stated what had allegedly happened but failed to list a location or person accused and that many case notes just stated that abuse occurred with no further details whatsoever.

This information is disturbing because most of us believe that the agencies set up to investigate wrongdoing are going to do their job and find a problem when there is one to find. Not being able to trust the Public Health Department to follow up on cases of abuse and neglect in nursing homes, leaves many families of victims, or other people trying to report a serious problem, not knowing where else to turn. While it is crucial that departments that are supposed to investigate wrongdoing to do their job, families of victims should also contact an attorney that specializes in nursing home abuse and neglect to further discuss what options may be available to their loved one. If you live in the Chicagoland area and feel that a loved one is suffering or did suffer from neglect or abuse in a nursing home, please do no hesitate to contact our office today.