Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse Incidents are Largely Unreported

On June 12, 2019, a report released by the Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General revealed that Nursing Home Abuse remains largely unreported. The study examined claims sent to Medicare in 2016 by beneficiaries residing in skilled nursing facilities (SNFs). The report states that approximately one in five of those emergency room visits were the result of potential abuse or neglect.

The report also revealed that nursing homes are failing to comply with the Center of Medicaid and Medicare’s (CMS) regulations. Under these regulations, SNFs are required to report incidents of abuse and neglect to Survey Agencies, who are then required to report incidents to the CMS or local enforcement agencies. However, both SNFs and Survey Agencies have been failing to meet their federal requirements. The CMS may not be doing all they can to prevent abuse, as it currently does not require tracking all potential incidents in the Automated Survey Processing Environment Complaints/Incidents Tracking System.

The Office of Inspector General is urging CMS to take action since “preventing, detecting, and combating elder abuse requires CMS, Survey Agencies, and SNFs to meet their responsibilities.”

The Office suggests that CMS works with Survey Agencies to staff on training SNF staff on identifying and recording all potential incidences of abuse or neglect. They also suggest that CMS requires Survey Agencies to record and track all incidents of potential abuse or neglect in SNFs and referrals made to local law enforcement and other agencies. CMS concurred with these recommendations and states they are creating a plan to ensure more accurate reporting in the future.