Nursing Home Staff Are Required to Report Elder Abuse

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As part of the Health Care Reform Bill (often called Obama Care), passed in March 2010, The Elder Justice Act requires long-term care facilities that received at least $10,000 in federal funds the previous year to self-report nursing home elder abuse.

The law states that any owner, operator, employee, manager, agent or contractor of a long-term care facility who encounters elder abuse by a staff member, other residents, or a visitor, must report any reasonable suspicion of a crime against a resident to the Department of Health and Human Services and to one or more local law enforcement agencies, such as the local police department.

If the alleged elder abuse includes serious bodily injury to the resident, the suspected abuse must be reported immediately. If bodily harm is not involved, the alleged abuse must be reported within 24 hours.

Failure to report suspicion of elder abuse can result in the owner, operator, employee, manager, agent, or contractor being fined $200,000 – $300,000 individually, depending on the nature of the abuse.

To protect whistleblowers, the EJA also provides penalties for long-term care facilities that retaliate against an employee for filing a complaint or reporting a nursing home that doesn’t report alleged suspicions of elder abuse in the nursing home.

Though we’re delighted that EJA encourages the reporting of alleged elder abuse in nursing homes, there are still thousands of long-term care facilities across the country who can weasel out of the law because they don’t receive federal funding.

If your loved one is in such a facility, we strongly urge you to stay alert to signs of elder abuse. Remember, the amount of money paid to a facility does not make your loved one immune from elder abuse.