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Medicare should force nursing homes to report problems

There are some excellent nursing homes in Chicago, Illinois. Unfortunately, there may be others at which nursing home abuse occurs. For that reason, it is critical for those who place a relative in a nursing home to get to know its staff and to keep constant tabs on their relative to make sure that he or she is being treated well. A good rule of thumb is to verify everything and keep in constant communication with your relative and the nursing home staff. Talking to other people who have relatives there to get an understanding of their experience is also a good idea.

Nationwide, there are many cases of nursing home abuse that go unreported. According to a government audit, one in four cases of possible nursing home abuse are never reported. The audit blamed Medicare for not enforcing a federal law that requires immediate notification in cases where abuse is suspected. The audit was based on cases from 33 states and was conducted by the office of the inspector general at Health and Human Services (HHS). The investigators who conducted the audit, including an audit manager, say that Medicare must take corrective action immediately to protect nursing home residents.

The conclusions of the audit were drawn using investigative data analysis techniques, and included going through hospital emergency room records of nursing home residents from 2015 and 2016. Illinois had the highest total number of incidents, with Michigan, Texas and California also having high total numbers.

Twenty-eight percent of the cases showed that the incident that resulted in the visit to the hospital emergency room had not been reported to authorities. That is despite the fact that nursing homes are required to report cases of suspected abuse. Medicare, according to the conclusion reached by the investigators who ran the audit, has not enforced the reporting requirement by impressing upon nursing homes that they have to report or that they will incur fines of up to $300,000.

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