In the last 12 months, Georgia’s WRDW Channel 12 conducted an investigation into the treatment of nursing home neglect and abuse reporting by the police. What the neglect accountability investigation team found was a shocking lack of concern displayed by local, state, and federal regulators of nursing homes.
The neglect accountability investigation examined police reports at one local nursing home owned by the PruittHealth corporation and compared those reports to federal reports on the same event. The most common discovery from these investigations was that many of the cases were classified as “information only.”
An “information only” case disposition indicates that the officer is only taking the report for documentation purposes because the events being reported do not meet the definition of a crime. As members of the neglect accountability investigation team discovered, however, this disposition was highly inappropriate for many of these reports.
One prominent example that stood out to investigators was the case of a resident identified as Glenn. Glenn was dependent on PruittHealth staff for everything from a shave to dry underclothes since he possessed very little motor functions due to his condition.
Despite his condition, Glenn told reporters that he laid in his own excrement for “about 9 hours,” without assistance. Following these humiliating events, Glen told reporters, “I called police.” Sharee Parson, Glenn’s daughter, called North Augusta Public Safety on behalf of her father to report the neglect, which is a punishable offense along with abuse. The report that was filed was designated as “information only” and the officer heading the case immediately closed it without investigation.
More shocking to the neglect accountability investigation tea, however, was the fact that this was not the first time that Glenn’s allegations had been dismissed by law enforcement. The previous year, a staff member was compelled by law to call the police after Glenn made a similar complaint about being left in his own waste for an extended period. The staff member followed through with Glenn’s request, telling reporters she “wanted the incident documented,” and like Glenn’s more recent report it was listed “information only” and dismissed out of hand.
Of the cases investigated by the neglect accountability investigation, more than half of the 28 cases of neglect and abuse were listed as information only. These cases included allegations of a nurse physically assaulted a patient with bedsores that was classified as a “medical complaint,” an employee verbally abusing a patient and taunting her with photos of the patient listed as “information only,” and an employee heard by family of the resident calling her schizoid and crazy while refusing to help her use the restroom also designated “information only.”
The facility was also compelled to notify federal and state agencies about potential abuse or neglect, yet none of the reports made to these agencies matched local police reports. The Crimes Against the Vulnerable and Elderly (CAVE) is one of the organizations which received conflicting reports of potential abuse at the PruittHealth home. In a statement to reporters, District Attorney Natalie Paine said that legislators created the CAVE initiative because “every single agency had its own little thing they were doing but nobody was talking to each other.”
The public relations firm that represents PruittHealth recently responded to reporter inquiries stating that they found where they did report all neglect and abuse allegations to DHEC, the South Carolina agency which oversees nursing homes but could not show those reports due to privacy concerns. They also said they were unsure why the reports to the state get passed on to to the federal agency that rates nursing homes.
For more information about nursing home neglect and the dangers it poses to residents visit the National Association of Nursing Home Attorney’s Neglect Page.