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Audit: elder care complaints not being properly investigated

Ohio residents who have a loved one in a nursing home should know that elder abuse and neglect are always possible no matter how highly rated a facility is. Not only that, but the reports of such abuse and neglect often go for months without a formal investigation.

An auditor looked at 200 of the worst complaints that had been filed with the Massachusetts public health department and found that only a quarter were investigated within the mandated 10-day period. On average, the complaints were investigated 40 days after being filed. Many of the claims involved unsanitary conditions, the financial manipulation of residents and neglect to the point that bed-ridden patients developed sores.

The Department of Public Health is supposed to refer serious cases to the Attorney General's office, but the auditor found that this sometimes did not happen. Inadequate staffing and imperfect policies may be partly to blame although the DPH disputes that the latter is an issue. Regarding the former, the DPH states that it has increased staffing and conducted onsite investigations of 99.5% of cases that required it.

The audit covered a two-year period starting in 2016 and ending in 2018. The auditor says that legislators and community members will need to push for change if agencies don't improve their oversight of elder care.

Those who suspect that a loved one has been injured in a nursing home may want to see a lawyer. To build up a nursing home injury case, one may need to speak with the police, obtain a police report, take photographs and gather other kinds of evidence of abuse or neglect. One must then prove that the nursing home was negligent. For instance, there may have been inadequate medical treatment, or an employee may not have met the hiring standards.

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