by TAMARA SACHARCZYK
Elder abuse is happening at an alarming rate across the country, including in Southern New England.
estimated one in 10 older adults are victims of elder abuse. Some of
the cases are physical or sexual in nature, while others are emotional
involving abandonment, neglect and self-neglect.
to the Rhode Island Office of Healthy Aging (formerly the Division of
Elderly Affairs), there were 1,377 confirmed cases of elder abuse in
2017, which is 444 cases more than just five years earlier. Some of the
cases have happened in state-run facilities, such as nursing homes and
adult day care centers.
I pulled records from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services
to get a better idea of what’s happening at nursing homes in Rhode
The Nursing Home Comparison Tool
has ranked 23 of Rhode Island's 79 nursing homes as “below average” or
“much below average” based on quality of care, staffing and health
inspections. The reasons behind those ratings are detailed in reports
filled out by the facilities.
In one case, a staff member
"threatened to hit a resident” and was “throwing air punches” at the
resident. In a separate case, a nurse directed other staff members not
to help a resident who was locked in her room, calling out for help,
because she was upset the resident threw pills at her. Another nursing
home was cited after a CNA failed to tend to a resident who activated
their call light, because that CNA was “on a coffee break” for 20
Those instances just scratch the surface of what we found.
Attorney Anthony Leone has prosecuted dozens of legal cases against local nursing homes, ranging from neglect to abuse.
seen cases where folks haven’t seen medication for almost a year. We’ve
also seen cases where a clear medication error led to serious harm,"
He said many of these cases are the result of low staffing levels.
are a whole variety of injuries we see Some of the most common include
high-pressure injuries, falls that result in fractures hip fractures,
medication errors, infections that are not timely diagnosed or are not
timely treated. Those are probably the most common types of cases that
we see," he said.
There are no minimum requirements for staffing
levels at nursing homes in Rhode Island, but the state does require a
registered nurse to be in the facility 24 hours a day, seven days a
NBC 10 News found several cases in local nursing homes where
residents fell because no one was around to help them get up or
suffered skin wounds after they were left lying in one position for too
Leone said abuse and neglect complaints are reported to the
state Department of Health, which will then conduct an unannounced visit
If a deficiency is found during an inspection or
complaint investigation, the facility is required to develop a plan of
correction. The state will then monitor that plan to make sure any
issues have been corrected within a certain time frame.
Depending on the case, the attorney general's office may also get involved.
10 News found that over the past two years, the attorney general's
Medicaid Fraud Control Unit has investigated 20 accusations of patient
abuse in state health care facilities, including nursing homes and adult
day care centers.
The office’s Elder Abuse Unit investigated 73 abuse incidents in that same time period, cases that aren’t exclusive to nursing homes.
Island also has an ombudsman program that addresses complaints in the
state’s long-term care system. The most recent statistics show the
ombudsman verified 200 of the 416 complaints about nursing homes in
2017, and 41 of 78 complaints from assisted-living facilities.
Assistant Attorney General Molly Kapstein Cote told me the number of
cases that haven't been reported or investigated is likely much higher
“It’s underreported for a variety of pretty serious and sad reasons," Kapstein Cote said.
Cote said elder abuse isn't just happening in nursing homes.
Oftentimes, it happens under the victim's own roof by someone they know
and trust, making many victims reluctant to come forward.
victims rely on their caretaker, who may also be their perpetrator for
help with everything throughout the day, from assistance with personal
needs to getting food and transportation. They’re terrified that if they
turn that person in, they’ll have no other person to take care of them
and make sure they can function throughout the day," Kapstein Cote said.
why she wants to remind the public that Rhode Island is a mandatory
reporting state. That means if you suspect abuse is happening, you're
legally obligated to report it regardless of whether you're a stranger, a
family member or even the victim.
According to state law, failure to report abuse of a person 60 or older can result in a fine of up to $1,000.
Kapstein Cote said the state can only stop elderly abuse if it knows when it’s happening.
happening much more than we realize, and we need to encourage older
adults to not be scared or embarrassed. We want them to come forward and
know that we’re here," Kapstein Cote said.
Elder abuse and self-neglect can be reported 24 hours a day by calling the Office of Healthy Aging at 401-462-0555.
Reports can be filed anonymously.
Full Article & Source:
More elder abuse cases being reported in RI, statistics show