New York Trains Nursing Home Staffers to “Whistleblow” on Suspected Abuse

New York State is proactively training nursing home staff how to be “better whistleblowers” whenever nursing home abuse or neglect is suspected. Describing the training as “the first of its kind” across the country, The Buffalo News said the New York Department of Health trained nursing home workers on submitting reports with important details, which include the “time and location of the alleged infractions” as well as any possible witnesses or other relevant information. The health department, which is responsible for overseeing nursing homes in New York, encouraged filing these “comprehensive complaints” in certain situations such as when the nursing home lacked adequate staffing, when important medical devices are malfunctioning, or anything else that puts the health and safety of nursing home patients in jeopardy.

Currently, anyone can file an anonymous report with the state health department. While staffers are obligated to report some instances of nursing home abuse under the state’s “mandatory reporter” laws, elder care advocates say this law is difficult to enforce. The state also prevents nursing homes from retaliating against any employee who files a report or cooperates with an investigation against the facility.

The health department said the training was necessary because some nursing home residents do not have families advocating on their behalf and the state cannot “monitor each institution around the clock.” Therefore, these vulnerable New Yorkers need nursing home staff to prevent and stop any nursing home abuse or neglect. Speaking to The Buffalo News, a nursing aide named Tanya Goffe said, “We have to recognize that these facilities are people’s homes… We want to make sure that our residents get the care they deserve.” The New York Department of Health apparently agrees and says it plans to conduct more “whistleblowing” seminars for nursing home staffers across the state.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan, PLLC work diligently to protect the rights of nursing home residents.  Please contact us to discuss in the event you have a potential case involving neglect or abuse.

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