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William Eadie | Jun 6, 2014

Who Investigates Ohio Nursing Home Abuse?

I get calls regularly from families who discovered a loved one was being provided substandard nursing home care—from inadequate nutrition and hydration to sanitary and bedsore concerns.

Who is responsible for investigating Ohio’s nursing homes to prevent (or at least identify) this poor care?

Because every nursing home in Ohio is funded from Medicare or Medicaid, The Ohio Department of Health regulates every Ohio nursing home by performing an Annual Survey. The inspection is unannounced and evaluated all aspects of the nursing home care and services based on federal and state laws and rules. The Ohio Department of Health evaluates complaints related to resident’s rights, quality of care, quality of life, staffing, abuse, dietary, and environmental concerns. Once an abuse or neglect complaint is made within the past year, The Ohio Department of Health will send a surveyor to investigate the complaint.

While we all hope nursing homes providing poor care will be cited during an Annual Survey (and therefore have to file a Plan of Correction), that simply is not the case every time. When I’m investigating a family’s complaints of inadequate care, there may have been nothing reported to the Ohio Department of Health. The Spangenberg Law Firm can take a role in investigating how and why inadequate care was provided.

In 2003, there were 20,673 complaints of abuse, gross neglect, and exploitation on behalf of nursing home and “board and care” residents in the U.S. But only 1 out of 14 of those incidents of elder abuse was reported to authorities. (http://www.justice.org/cps/rde/justice/hs.xsl/3005.htm) The good news is that nursing home lawyers like those at the Spangenberg Law firm can investigate nursing home abuse and neglect without regard to whether the Ohio Department of Health finds violations.

Families should take the lead in monitoring their resident’s care, including speaking or communicating with their loved one outside the presence of the staff. In one bedsore case I’ve investigated, the nursing home staff had family leave during clothing and sanitary pad changings—thereby hiding the festering pressure ulcer bedsore wound, which continued to get worse. Only by insisting on being present did the family learn the truth.

Of course, there are many great nursing homes, and great, caring staff. According to U.S. News & World Report, there are 177 nursing homes in the Cleveland, Ohio, metropolitan area which includes Elyria, Lakewood, and Mentor. Of these, 57 received an overall rating of five stars for best nursing homes from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (http://health.usnews.com/best-nursing-homes/area/cleveland-oh)

To find out if a Nursing home has been approved or cited by The Ohio Department of Health, you can visit the Nursing home Compare Government Medicare website at:http://www.medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare/search.html?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1

National Nursing Home week was May 11th-17th. The American Health Care Association celebrates by “Living in the Aloha Spirit.” The phrase Aloha spirit means patience, kindness, good feelings and respect in caring about others. This week, everyone should demonstrate the Aloha Spirit and give thanks for high-quality nursing home centers—but also be vigilant in identifying, and reporting, poor care.

Have you had a positive or negative experience with a nursing home? Have you had to interact with the Ohio Department of Health?