The U.S. Department of Justice is launching a task force to target abuse and neglect in nursing homes, as statistics show about 5 million elders are abused each year. According to Law360, the DOJ task force will focus on “grossly substandard care” in nursing homes across the nation.
The National Nursing Home Initiative (NNHI), the new DOJ task force, will target the mistreatment of patients, nursing home neglect and abuse, insufficient infection control practices, as well as understaffing, rather than solely focusing on anti-fraud enforcement.
How Will the New DOJ Task Force Work?
The NNHI will target nursing home abuse and neglect in Florida and across the U.S. in coordination with federal, state, and local prosecutors. As of March 3, the new task force is already investigating about 30 nursing homes in nine states.
Many nursing homes across the U.S. prioritize profits over patients, which results in instances of abuse and neglect of elders. The new DOJ task force is supposed to bring to justice all those who abuse and neglect seniors in nursing homes and punish those who profit at the expense of their residents.
Among other things, the NNHI will prosecute nursing homes for:
- Mistreating residents;
- Failing to provide enough food or water;
- Improper hygiene and infection control practices;
- Understaffing or failing to adequately staff facilities; and
- Withholding medication or overmedicating residents to subdue them.
Nursing home operators and owners can be imprisoned for failing to provide adequate care to residents.
Signs of Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse
The problem of nursing home neglect and abuse in U.S. facilities is not new. In fact, the U.S. government has been urged to address the problem for years. Three years ago, authorities called on the federal government to investigate the underreporting of physical and sexual abuse in nursing homes.
Unfortunately, the existing protocols to ensure that abuse and neglect in nursing homes are identified and reported are not adequate enough. However, family members of nursing home residents may discover that their parents or grandparents are being physically abused by looking for the following signs:
- Broken eyeglasses
- Signs of restraint
- Unexplained broken bones, sprains, or dislocations
- Bruising, scars, or cuts
- Refusal to take medications properly
Symptoms of emotional abuse in the elderly person include:
- Unusual behavior
- Irrational fear
- Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
- Low self-esteem
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Signs of sexual abuse against the elderly in nursing homes include:
- Developing unexplained STDs or genital infections
- Bleeding from the anus or genitals unrelated to a medical condition
- Pelvic injuries
- Torn, stained, or bloody underwear
- Bruises on the inner thigh or genitals
- Problems with walking or sitting down
- Social or emotional withdrawal
- Pain in the genitals or anus
- Engaging in inappropriate or unusual sexual activities
Signs of caregiver neglect include:
- A rapid loss of weight
- Bedsores caused by the failure to turn the patient regularly
- Poor hygiene due to not bathing the senior or leaving them dirty
- Living in unsafe living conditions (e.g., lack of heat, faulty electrical wiring, etc.)
- Leaving a senior resident alone at a public location for a prolonged period
- Living in filthy or unclean conditions
If you notice any of these, contact a Lakeland nursing home abuse attorney at The Turnbull Firm to stop and prevent the neglect and punish the wrongdoer. Call at 407-612-6464 or 863-324-3500 to talk about your situation.