New statistics released by the Minnesota Health Department show how rampant nursing home abuse is in the state and how ill-equipped public offices are to deal with the sheer number of complaints. They report that last year, they received 3,400 complaints regarding nursing home and in home care abuse, but were only able to perform on-site investigations on 10% of these cases.
Moreover, the agency received 21,000 allegations of abuse from nursing homes and other long-term care facilities in the state during the 2016 fiscal year. Of those 21,000 they were only able to conduct on-site investigations of 102 cases, or about 0.5% of them.
In July of 2015, Minnesota set up a central state-wide hotline to encourage direct reporting of nursing home and in home care abuse because the county-based system was criticized for being slow and inefficient. This has indeed encouraged residents to report abuse, but the state has not found the resources to address the rapid increase in allegations.
From 2010 to 2016, the number of complaints by Minnesota residents per year has risen from 500 to almost 3,500. In 2010, providers of long-term care reported only 3,100 possible issues, and, in 2016, the number is seven times higher, with 21,000 possible cases of abuse. Because of the relatively lower numbers, in 2010, the State Department was able to investigate 73% of abuse allegations; last year they were able to investigate 10%.
In fact, last year alone there were complaints of “4,031 resident-to-resident altercations, 2,867 unexplained injuries, 963 incidents of abuse by staff and 341 unexplained fractures” which could not be investigated by state authorities.
One Minnesota attorney who works on elder-care abuse cases, told reporters, “It's incomprehensible the number of cases that involve blatant criminal behavior where the Department of Health says, ‘No big deal,' and the perpetrators are not held accountable.”
A professor of social work at Minnesota State University agreed with the attorney. “The vulnerable adults reporting system in this state is broken and you can't fix it by throwing more money at the problem,” Dr. Nancy Fitzsimons said. “We're not really holding people accountable in this state.”
The Minnesota Health Department is asking for the state to expand their budget so they can begin to address these pressing concerns more quickly. Today, on average, it takes six months for the organization to complete an investigation into allegations of abuse. Under the Minnesota Vulnerable Adults Act, the maximum amount of time mandated for such an investigation is 60 days, but the department is unable to adhere to these rules because of the massive increase in complaints.
Nursing home abuse complaints should always be taken seriously and addressed as soon as possible. If you are worried about a loved one in a nursing home or long-term care facility and are struggling to get your concerns taken seriously, consider consulting with a legal professional. Call attorneys Charles Gilman and Briggs Bedigian today at (800) 529-6162 or contact them online.