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October 2017

Nursing Home Abuse Vastly Under-reported; Emergency Rooms Coming to More Than Medical Rescue

Washington Watch


More than 25 percent of possible sexual and physical abuse cases against nursing home patients were not reported to police, warns a new government audit.


The Health and Human Services inspector general's office issued an unusual "early alert" recently, based on preliminary findings from a large sampling of cases in 33 states. The IG's report blamed Medicare for failing to enforce federal law which requires that nursing homes immediately notify the police in abuse cases.


Investigators issued the early warning because they found that the results were sufficiently alarming that corrective action is needed right now and can't wait a year while the report is completed.


Looking at records from 2015 and 2016, investigators found 134 cases of abuse of nursing home residents severe enough to require emergency treatment. This sampling represents a tiny fraction of the nation's 1.4 million nursing home residents. But it means the problem is considerably larger than people are aware of and shows that the issue has been under-reported.


These incidents of potential abuse and neglect were found in 33 states, including cases of rape and sexual abuse; more than a quarter of the cases had never been reported to law enforcement authorities. Of those 134 cases, Illinois had the largest number of incidents overall, with 17. It was followed by Michigan (13), Texas (9) and California (8).


One example, cited in the alert, involves a woman who was left deeply bruised after being sexually assaulted at her nursing home. Under federal regulations, that incident should have been reported to the police within two hours. But the nursing home involved didn't do that.


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Halloween Night Adventures

As I Recall


On this night there are those who venture out, leaving the safety of their homes, in search of scary thrills like going to very old, and sometimes large cemeteries. They dare to see who in their group is brave enough to take the walk alone through the dark graveyard. Others rig old houses with dim lights and mechanical spooks that drop down from the ceiling or pop out of closed compartments. The “haunted house” is sometimes equipped with recorded eerie sound effects to make the experience more sinister and intimidating. The mischievous sounding laughter, the flutter of bat wings, moans and screams in the house fill the bravest among the visitors with foreboding sensations.


One of the adventures that thrill-seeking teenagers used to engage in was going to a cemetery as a group late on Halloween night. There, they would take turns walking through the cemetery one at a time. This wasn’t too risky on moonlit nights, but could be hazardous on dark nights. A flashlight was not allowed for the hike. Only those who would look for the hiker who got lost, or didn’t make it all the way through could use a light.


Speaking of hazardous, if the adventurous one became frightened, he wouldn’t dare try to run, because an unseen granite tombstone makes for a pretty sudden and painful stop. There was nothing in the graveyard that one could see that would cause any harm, but sometimes what one suspects is lurking in the darkness of night might cause one to hurt himself. Of course the first to make the trip is considered to be the bravest.


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