It is unknown how many of our vulnerable elderly fall victim to neglect or abuse each year since such actions are easily hidden from view and underreported. In fact, according to the National Center for Elder Abuse (NCEA), 84 percent of abusive situations involving older adults go unreported or unrecognized.
Elder abuse, including nursing home abuse and neglect, is a significant problem throughout the Cleveland region. According to a recent report from News 5 Cleveland, the Cuyahoga County Division of Senior and Adult Services received over 4,000 reports of suspected elder abuse last year. The Division determined roughly half of those reports were supported by evidence.
To help combat nursing home and other forms of elder abuse, the State of Ohio recently expanded the list of individual professionals and entities who are deemed “mandated reporters.” This means that if a person falls into one of the designated categories, they are legally required to report suspected elder abuse. A mandated reporter can be fined up to $500 for failing to comply with the law.
Who are Mandated Reporters of Nursing Home Abuse?
So how do you know who is considered a mandatory reporter? The most recent list from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, which oversees the state’s Adult Protective Services, directly identifies the following groups:
- anyone who works for a nursing home, residential care facility, or home for the aged;
- anyone who works for a home health agency, adult care facility, community alternative home, outpatient health facility, or community mental health facility; or
- health care professionals, including doctors, dentists, podiatrists, chiropractors, osteopathic physicians, nurses, EMTs and first responders, and psychologists.
In addition, there are a number of non-nursing home and health care professionals who are considered mandated reporters, such as attorneys, financial planners, real estate brokers, and even clergymen. As a matter of law, these people must report suspected abuse even if they are otherwise in a confidential relationship with the alleged victim. The law does not make exceptions for, say, a physician-patient or attorney-client relationship.
What are the Common Signs of Abuse/Neglect?
If you are a mandated reporter–or even if you’re just someone concerned that a loved one is the subject of nursing home neglect or abuse–what exactly are you looking for? The signs of neglect and abuse are not always obvious, but here are some common signs that something might be wrong:
- the elder person has untreated injuries, such as bruises, bed sores, or lacerations;
- the elder person exhibits sudden changes in their mood or behavior, often without apparent provocation;
- the elder person appears undernourished or dehydrated;
- the nursing home refuses to let anyone visit the elder person by themselves;
- the nursing home has unsafe or hazardous living conditions, such as a lack of heat or water;
- the elder person’s room is an unsanitary or unclean condition, e.g., there is soiled bedding, excessive dirt, the presence of insects, et al.
Contact a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
Beyond what Ohio law requires, nursing home abuse and neglect is one area where we all need to be more aware and take action when necessary. If you have reason to believe that your parent or elderly relative is not being properly cared for, you need to get in touch with an experienced Cleveland nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer. Call Tittle & Perlmuter at (216) 308-1522 today if you live in the Cleveland, Elyria, Lakewood, Chardon, or Sandusky areas and require immediate assistance.