Watchdog: Neglect and abuse unreported in nursing facilities

WASHINGTON (AP) — A government watchdog says nursing facilities have failed to report thousands of serious cases of potential neglect and abuse of Medicare beneficiaries to authorities even though reporting is required.

Auditors with the Health and Human Services inspector general’s office drilled down on episodes serious enough that the patient was taken straight from a nursing facility to a hospital emergency room.

Investigators scoured Medicare billing records, estimating that in 2016 about 6,600 red-flag episodes reflected potential neglect or abuse that was not reported to state nursing home inspectors as required. That’s about 18% of the total cases investigators reviewed.

The inspector general is calling for a new focus on protecting frail patients. Medicare says it’s already doing that and agrees that training must be improved for nursing home staff and inspectors.

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