Spotting nursing home abuse or neglect can be difficult but reporting abuse can end up saving a person's life. Unfortunately, a report showed that even when nursing home abuse is reported and investigated, many facilities do not face criminal charges.
Last year, the Ohio Department of Health cited nursing homes throughout Ohio 198 times for not reporting abuse or neglect or for hiring someone with a history of abusing or neglecting elderly patients. Ohio nursing homes were also cited 46 times for "verbal, sexual, physical, and mental abuse, corporal punishment, and involuntary seclusion" against their nursing home residents.
Many assume that when nursing home facilities are cited for neglect or abuse, they are shut down or the guilty parties are fired and even put in jail. However, this is usually not the case in Ohio.
The nursing home abuse or neglect cases that are investigated by the police often don't lead to criminal charges against the nursing home or their employees. Police say this is because there are no witnesses and many victims are not fully capable of telling police what happened.
In addition to not usually having a credible witness, prosecutors do not usually charge a nursing home facility or their managers with a crime due to Ohio laws. For a nursing home facility or manager to be charged with a crime, prosecutors have to show that they knew the abuse or neglect occurred.
Prosecutors must also establish that the facility ignored that potential harm was happening in order to hold the facility criminally liable. Prosecutors said that it is very difficult to establish that a facility actually knew about the abuse or neglect so that is why many cases never lead to criminal charges against the facility.
While nursing home facilities usually do not face criminal charges, nursing home employees accused of abuse or neglect are more likely to be charged. There have been several cases in Ohio where a nursing home aide has been charged assault and patient abuse after abuse or neglect has been reported to authorities.
Source: Vindy, "Facilities skirt prosecution in many elder-abuse cases," Alyssa Lenhoff, Dec. 3, 2012
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