One Third of Nursing Homes Cited for Abuse, Report Says

A 2009 Congressional report revealed that over 30 percent of all nursing homes in the United States—5,283—received citations for <"">abuse violations from January 1999 to January 2001. The homes racked up nearly 9,000 violations; the violations were such that there was the potential for harm, said the report entitled: “US House of Representatives: Abuse of Residents is A Major Problem in US Nursing Homes.”

Of the violations in the report’s prior two year period, 2,500 were significant and could cause harm or could place the residents in “immediate jeopardy of death or serious injury,” the report said, pointing out that about 10 percent of U.S. nursing homes—1,601—received citations for abuse violations that resulted in real harm, or worse.

The review of state inspection records was requested by Representative Henry Waxman (Democrat-California) who said, “We found examples of residents being punched, choked, or kicked by staff members or other residents,” wrote CBS.

Nursing home abuse spans indignities against these vulnerable members of society on all levels: Physical, emotional, chemical, and sexual. Neglect and even workers who have abused residents as part of pranks against each other are becoming more and more commonplace. The elderly are among our most fragile citizens and, often, we have no choice but to place our older relatives in the care of others. Sadly, reports of nursing home abuse are continually rising as are an increase in family-installed nanny cams catching nursing home workers abusing residents.

Not surprisingly, the report revealed that the abuse cases were physical, sexual, and verbal and indicated that all types of abuse are increasing with a nearly two-fold increase in nursing homes cited in 2000 versus 1996, said CBS News. “It would have been intolerable if we had found a hundred cases of abuse; it is unconscionable that we have found thousands upon thousands,” Waxman said, wrote CBS News, which noted that in 1996, 5.9 percent of nursing homes received abuse violation citations when they received yearly inspections and, in 2000, this figure rose to 16 percent.

Last year, CBS News began its report on nursing home abuse when it interviewed Helen Love, a resident attacked by a certified nurse’s assistant after the worker became enraged when Love soiled herself. “He choked me and went and broke my neck and broke my wrist,” said Love, reported CBS News. Love died two days after speaking with CBS. The nursing assistant was sentenced to one year in county jail, said CBS.

CBS News also learned that three other workers at the same facility, located in Sacramento, were convicted for abuse, a crime that should have banned them from working in a nursing home.

Waxman, the House Government Reform Committee’s top Democrat—said Congress should reinstate a federal law no longer in effect, that increases spending for nursing homes, said CBS. The Boren amendment would, if implemented, supposedly guarantee that the U.S.’s nursing homes—about 17,000—would improve staff screening, training, and counseling. Waxman is also presenting a plan to mandate criminal background checks on nursing home staff and implement more stringent standards on those facilities cited with violations, said CBS. About 1.5 million senior citizens reside in nursing homes.

Bruce Rosenthal, spokesman for the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, said Congress should be more concerned with problem centers as opposed to putting standards in place for all facilities. “We strongly believe nursing homes that exhibit consistently poor performance should either clean up their act or be put out of business,” said Rosenthal, reported CBS News.

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