The Feds Step Up To Nursing Home Abuse

  • Sep 24 2016

What is being done to fight the abuse of elders

Elder abuse in all its forms, whether physical, emotional or financial is a heinous crime and a growing problem not only in California, but across the Nation. That’s the bad news. The good news is that the federal government is cracking down on what has been called the crime of the 21st Century. Recently, the U.S. Department of Justice announced it will launch a program designed to combat the abuse of elderly patients in nursing homes.

Nursing Home Abuse at a Glance

Elderly patients are abused in nursing facilities in a variety of ways, both physical and emotional. Physical abuse includes assault, battery and sexual assault  as well as unreasonable physical or chemical constraint as a means of punishment or for any reason that has not been prescribed by a doctor. Seniors also suffer emotional abuse at the hands of nursing home staff. This form of abuse includes verbal abuse or ignoring or isolating patients which can lead to pain and suffering. While physical abuse can be identified by bruises or other injuries on the victim, warning signs of emotional abuse include changes in the personality or behavior of an elderly patient.

In California, the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection act is designed to protect   vulnerable elderly persons and hold elder care facilities accountable for failing to provide an acceptable standard of care. This law requires health practitioners, public and private caregivers, and law enforcement agencies to report cases of elder abuse.

Justice Department Task Forces

The DOJ intends to set up 10 regional Elder Justice Task Forces across the country. These bodies will coordinate efforts among federal, state, and local law enforcement and agencies that provide services to elders. This will be a collaborative effort by US. Attorneys’ Offices, state Medicaid Fraud Control Units, the Department of Health and Human Services, state Adult Protective Services aimed at identifying nursing homes that are providing substandard care to elderly patients.

A Dysfunctional System

While this effort may reduce the number of elder abuse cases in nursing facilities, some worry that the problem is really dysfunction in the elder care system. These critics argue that the system is failing to protect the elderly and that Medicare and Medicaid programs contribute to the problem by paying elder health care providers while failing to ascertain whether quality care is being provided.

In the final analysis, the DOJ initiative is only the first step in combating what is a systemic problem. In the meantime, the elderly patients and their loved ones have powerful legal recourse to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against a nursing facility. The law firm of J&Y fights for the rights of elders in Northern and Southern California.

Posted in: Elder Abuse


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