Maybe as a concerned adult, you reported to your employer you suspected there is elderly abuse within the medical facility. Or, perhaps as a medical professional, you’ve seen signs or symptoms of elderly abuse and reported it the way you should. Legally, you should. But what happened after that? Nurses, administrative staff, maintenance staff, doctors, and other professionals who work with their medical facilities often see signs of elderly abuse. Many times they reported the way that they should.
Is it possible that the widely under-reported or under-reported elderly abuse situations happen because employers aren’t investigating the allegations? It’s coming to light that a lot of medical professionals are facing the same issues with elderly abuse that they do with mandated reporting for child abuse. They make the report, and the authority in charge of investigating doesn’t move forward.
Accidents in Medical Facilities
There are genuine accidents in medical facilities, and employers should investigate those too. If you’re an employee in a nursing home, then you know that falls happened, bruising happens, and oftentimes there was no malicious intent towards the patient. But many malicious people infiltrate these facilities specifically to inflict abuse. They may stage the abuse as accidental at first, but they may also inflict emotional harm, diminishing this person’s capacity, and taking advantage of patients who have difficulty communicating.
Even nursing homes that are confident in every person they hire should investigate all accidents and reports of suspected abuse. Having a policy that calls for an in-depth investigation of an accident and a thorough review for abuse can help the facility and the medical professionals identify abuse earlier and intervene to stop it.
Unreported or Under-Reported Injuries
Elderly abuse is far behind the times. Those who investigate elderly abuse and neglect suggest that forensic sciences and medical assessment of elderly abuse is about on par to where investigations for child abuse were about three decades ago. However, those working closely with elderly abuse and child abuse show a distinct correlation in contributing factors for victimization.
There’s an overwhelming belief that elderly abuse is extraordinarily under-reported, and there are a few key elements that substantiate this belief. The trouble is that it’s almost impossible to prove that a crime is under-reported. The suspicion has a foundation in forensic evaluation and reports after-the-fact or after the patient has left the facility, or new reports come out in conjunction to an active report for another patient.
To substantiate the belief that elderly abuse is under-reported, authorities look at the state of possible victims. Many victims cannot report because of physical or mental inability. They may not have the communication means to file a formal report against their abuser. They may also depend on their abuser for basic care or day-to-day needs and entirely depend on their abuser.
The other concern is that medical members of the medical facility are reporting to the facility’s administrative offices or directly to the medical Network. But, just like with mandated reporters for child abuse, they have no control over the launching of an investigation after they make a report.
Can You Report Nursing Home Abuse Suspicions
If you work in a nursing home and have your suspicions that one of the patients is experiencing elderly abuse, you have more options than simply to report to your employer. Absolutely file a formal report as per your company or employer’s policy.
In South Carolina, anyone who knows the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect can file their concerns anonymously with the South Carolina Department of Health and environmental control. This department is responsible for investigating all written and verbal complaints.
Columbia Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys
If you suspect a nursing home abuse, it might be time to turn to a nursing home abuse attorney. There are many situations where people feel helpless in reporting nursing home abuse and it’s possible that you might need to move towards the state or federal authorities if your employer isn’t acknowledging your reports. It’s also possible that the family of this elderly patient could take action of their own.
Families and the victims of nursing home abuse can take civil action against the company or facility where they were housed. They can also take civil action against key members who inflicted the abuse, those who refuse to investigate a formal report, and sometimes the owner of the facility. There are many options available to address nursing home abuse both criminally and civilly. Contacting Connell Law could be the first step for that family or that victim to address the abuse in civil court.