Article published by : Max Health on Thursday, November 01, 2012

Category : General Health

New Tools Help Families Identify Abusive Nursing Homes

Elder abuse is an increasingly common occurrence in the United States. Between 500,000 and one million reports of the criminal behavior filed each year. Now, two online tools allow users to identify nursing homes treat their residents well and those that tend to neglect or mistreat the elderly in their care.

Nursing Home Compare and Nursing Home Inspect

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid have made good on a promise to upload the full texts of 15,000 nursing home inspection reports. Prior to this change, users could use Medicare's online ranking tool Nursing Home Compare to view rankings and general inspection results, but not to obtain any details crucial to making a housing decision for loved ones.

Now, users can go to Nursing Home Compare, click "Inspections and Complaints" and click "View Full Report" to download the full text of any nursing home's most recent inspection. Nursing Home Compare allows families to look up national and state average deficiencies, star rankings of various nursing homes and nursing home staff information, all of which put the full text data into context.

Families may use another online tool to assess nursing homes. The investigative website ProPublica has developed Nursing Home Inspect, originally developed as a tool for journalists reporting on nursing home abuses. However, the data is accessible to anyone, so families can use the tool to look for trends in nursing home abuse and safety hazards and to learn about specific incidents at a particular facility.

Elder Abuse Possible at Nursing Homes

Unfortunately, the safety risks at nursing homes are not contained to food safety violations or understaffing. Sometimes, the elderly themselves are targets of neglect and abuse. Though every year in the United States 500,000 to one million instances of elder abuse are reported, experts believe this type of abuse is grossly underestimated.

Elder abuse can take many forms. It can be physical abuse, like kicking, slapping or striking, or sexual abuse, such as unwanted touching. Elder abuse may also be emotional, for example, isolating a resident, not allowing a resident to receive family or other visitors or giving a resident the silent treatment.

Abuse can also take a financial form. Some seniors may experience the theft of their money or other valuables or be duped into participating in a scam. Lastly, elder abuse can result from neglect, including neglect in medical care, nutrition and maintenance of facilities.

Many professionals are required to report elder abuse when they witness it, including medical professionals, social workers, staff members of nursing homes and assisted living facilities, counselors and law enforcement. Nursing homes also must post information on how to report abuse to an elder abuse hotline and make phones available to residents so they can report abuse.

Who May Be Held Liable for Elder Abuse Offenses?

In all states, elder abuse crimes are punishable under various criminal codes for assault, sexual assault and fraud, among others. However, victims of elder abuse and neglect may also be able to collect punitive and other damages in a civil lawsuit. For example, an individual injured by negligent personal care could sue for damages resulting from that injury. Similarly, damages for injuries caused by negligent maintenance of the facility and its equipment may also be pursued in civil court.

Elder abuse is a serious problem and seniors deserve to be compensated for injuries sustained from abuse or neglect. To find out how to hold the responsible party accountable for your or a loved one's injuries, please contact an experienced personal injury attorney.

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By: Max Health

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