Investigating Nursing Home Abuse

Federal law under the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 (NHRA) imposes rules and regulations specific to elder care establishments that receive payments from Medicaid or Medicare. These rules are generally more stringent than the standards of care required of wholly privately-funded nursing homes, although when abuse is reported, they are held just as liable. States may also, and do, have their own laws governing nursing homes over and above federal law, although they may be patterned after the NHRA.

But according to the website of law firm Habush Habush & Rottier S.C. ® in Wisconson, nursing homes cannot be relied on to provide residents with the care and attention they require. When it comes to incidents of abuse or neglect, the nursing home may be found liable for the actions of their staff members or other residents if they are aware of it but fail to report it to the designated authorities.

Under Texas law, anyone can report incidents of abuse or neglect, and in the case of nursing homes, this includes administrators and owners. Once a written report is made to the designated agency, the agency will then begin an investigation within 24 hours of receiving the report. Anonymous tips alleging nursing home abuse or neglect are not given the same weight as a named source, and the agency may choose not to do an investigation.

Typically, the investigative process begins with an unannounced visit to the care facility. The investigator will then observe and interview residents for signs of abuse or neglect and other witnesses that may corroborate the report. The investigator may also conduct a physical inspection of the premises and document the findings in writing and with photos. It may be necessary to obtain a court order to carry out some or all parts of the investigation.

A report from the investigator must be submitted within 30 days after the investigation has been completed. It will contain the findings of the investigator, and recommendations for future action

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