A recent CNN investigation found a staggering number of allegations of sexual abuse in America’s nursing homes. Yet many of those allegations are largely unreported and uninvestigated.
According to the Administration for Community Living, more than 16,000 complaints of sexual abuse from residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities have been made since 2000.
However, the real total could be far higher, as the Administration’s data only counts cases where long-term care ombudsmen were used in complaint resolution. Nationally, no all-inclusive figures exist to tally cases of reported nursing home sexual abuse.
Elder Sexual Abuse Underreported, Uninvestigated
The CNN investigation of state and federal data and court records showed that numerous nursing homes and law enforcement agencies have failed to report and investigate allegations of sexual abuse. The investigation also found that some claims were dismissed by law enforcement due to the victim’s memory issues or declining mental state.
State health investigators and officials are charged with investigating all claims of nursing home abuse reported by family members, caregivers or victims, as well as those from the facilities themselves. They conduct these investigations and routine inspections on behalf of the
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which oversees more than 15,000 facilities nationwide.
However, CNN’s investigation found a failure to flag caregivers and facilities accused of sexual abuse.
Sexual Abuse Citations Among Nursing Homes
Reports from the CMS indicate that 226 nursing homes were cited and fined for failing to protect residents from sexual abuse from 2010 to 2015. In about 60 percent of those cases, the fines totaled more than $9 million. Only 16 were cut off entirely from Medicare and Medicaid funds.
However, CNN found that this report only includes a small number of sexual abuse cases. The investigation found that more than 1,000 nursing homes have been cited for mishandling sexual abuse cases, including those involving abuse, assault and rape. Of these facilities, approximately 100 were cited numerous times.
These numbers do not include allegations that do not result in a citation or those that were not reported. Studies show that a large percentage of rape victims never report the incidents, which means these numbers could be even larger.
On an individual state basis, CNN found that only a few states had any data to report:
- Of the 386 sexual abuse allegations made in Illinois in 2013, 201 named a caretaker as the offender and just 59 cases were confirmed.
- In the eight sexual abuse claims made in Hawaii from 2011 to 2015, five named a caretaker as the offender.
- Of the 251 complaints filed in Texas in 2015, just 11 were confirmed.
In approximately 25 percent of nursing home sexual abuse cases, the offender is a nurse, staff member or aide of the facility. In a smaller number of claims, the abuser is a family member, another nursing home resident, a visitor or an unknown person.
The allegations against staff and caregivers often involved the most serious offenses, including forced intercourse, digital penetration and oral sex.
Based on its findings, CNN states that nursing home sexual abuse is largely unchecked in the U.S. This is a problem that will likely continue to grow as the nation’s senior population will likely rise drastically from 2010 to 2050
If you believe your loved one has been harmed while living in a nursing home, the nursing home abuse attorneys at Gordon & Doner will pursue justice to hold offenders accountable for their actions. Contact us today for a free, no obligation consultation.