Senate Holds Hearing on Nursing Home Abuse

The Senate Finance Committee examined the “crisis” of nursing home abuse in an emotional hearing this month. Families of abused nursing home patients told their tragic stories and frustrations with the lack of government oversight. In one of the testimonies before the Senators, Maya Fischer tearily detailed the sexual assault her mother suffered at a five-star rated nursing home in Minnesota. According to prosecutors who later charged a nursing home staffer for the rape, the predator had been suspended three times by the nursing home while they investigated sexual assault allegations. In two of these instances, the nursing home staffer who attacked Fischer’s mother was the main suspect.

Fischer described her “final memories of my mother’s life… watching her bang uncontrollably on her private parts for days after the rape, with tears rolling down her eyes, apparently trying to tell me what had been done to her but unable to speak due to her disease.” According to CNN, Fischer’s mother suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. Fischer says she is now speaking out to prevent her family’s tragedy from occurring to anyone else.

The Senators were rightfully outraged after listening to several harrowing stories of nursing home abuse and neglect. Sen. Chuck Grassley released a statement stating, “Things need to change, both for the standards at care facilities and for how CMS rates them. When American families consider where their loved ones can get the care they need, they should be able to rely on CMS information. That’s clearly not the case now.” After excoriating the current nursing home rating system, Sen. Grassley said he plans to hold two more hearing, this time with the government agencies responsible for overseeing the nation’s nursing homes.

The outrage surrounding nursing home abuse came to the forefront last month after a woman in a decade-long vegetative state became pregnant at a nursing home facility in Arizona last month. According to a CNN investigation, the government routinely mishandles reports of sex abuse in nursing homes. The news organization found more than 1,000 cases between 2013 and 2016 where the federal government failed to prevent a case of sex abuse in its investigation.

Less than one day after the Senate hearing, CMS updated its guidance on reporting nursing abuse. According to the federal agency, the new information “clarifies what information is needed to identify immediate jeopardy cases across all healthcare provider types, which we believe will result in quickly identifying and ultimately preventing [situations of abuse and neglect].” While the new guidance may help, it is unlikely to quell the growing outrage at a nursing home system that enables the mistreatment of vulnerable Americans.

Contact our nursing home abuse lawyers if a loved one has suffered in a nursing home setting.

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