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The Tragic Underreporting of Nursing Home Abuse

100% of nursing home abuse cases should be reported to the police.

75% of nursing home abuse cases actually do get reported to the police.Nursing home abuse

About 1.4 million people live in American nursing homes. That means that 350,000 people have suffered abuse in silence, allowing the abuser to continue harming others in the community. An Early Alert by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) in August 2017 exposed the poor abuse-reporting procedures in a sampling of nursing homes in 33 states, and suggested immediate changes.

Sadly, of the 33 states investigated, Illinois had the most unreported abuse incidents, followed by Michigan, Texas, and California.

Sexual Abuse

About 80% of underreported abuse cases involved rape or sexual abuse, a situation in which someone forces a sexual behavior on a resident who didn’t agree to it.

Some patients don’t have the strength or simply aren’t alert enough to recognize they’re being taken advantage of and put a stop to it. Patients with memory loss or communication problems may not even be able to tell another staff member or family members that they were abused.

Infrequent visitors might not be able to recognize abuse either, because they aren’t able to notice personality changes in their loved one. Even so, families shouldn’t have to worry about sexual predators if they can only visit occasionally. Families should feel confident that their loved one is being taken care of appropriately, and with respect, no matter who is there to see it.

Warning Signs

Not all sexual abuse is obvious, but there are some physical and behavioral warning signs you can look for in patients you suspect have suffered from sexual abuse:

  • Pelvic injury
  • Genital pain
  • New case of a sexually transmitted infection (STI)
  • Withdrawal from social settings or interactions
  • Bruises on thighs or pelvic area
  • Torn or bloody undergarments

As with any type of nursing home abuse, it’s important to contact local law enforcement about potential sexual abuse. If it’s found out that it did occur, the patient would be moved to another nursing home and treated with the necessary therapies.

Legal Action

There are many state and federal laws that require nursing home workers to report cases of abuse. According to federal law, nursing homes that don’t promptly report abuse face fines of up to $300,000.

If you or a loved one was abused while in the care of a nursing home, contact one of our nursing home lawyers as soon as possible. Our firm has a proven record of success in fighting for the rights of victims of nursing home abuse. Call or e-mail us today, and let us fight for the justice you deserve.

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