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Elder care agencies fail to investigate complaints in time

Many nursing homes in New Mexico and across the U.S. are the subject of complaints regarding the quality of elder care. Residents of these homes may be neglected, abused or financially manipulated. The condition of many homes can even be unsanitary. One auditor in Massachusetts has found that many complaints linked to nursing homes are not being investigated as promptly as they should be.

The auditor took a sample of 200 complaints that could be considered the worst. Massachusetts requires that complaints be investigated within 10 days, but this happened with only a quarter of the cases. On average, each complaint was not investigated until 40 days after it was filed. On top of that, the Department of Public Health failed to report the more serious cases to the Attorney General's office and had no way to track such cases.

The DPH has responded by saying that it is already addressing its backlog. It disputed the auditor's conclusion that staffing issues contributed to the lack of oversight, stating that it has recently increased staffing. It also explained that it conducted an on-site investigation for 99.5% of all cases that required it. The auditor expressed her hope that legislators and community members will push for the necessary changes if elder care agencies fail to make them.

When there is a case of nursing home abuse, the family of the victim may be able to seek compensation. First, though, they must prove that the other side was negligent, such as by having lax hiring procedures or failing to address safety hazards on the property. To see if their case is a strong one, the family may see a lawyer. Besides giving advice and guidance, the lawyer may strive for an out of court settlement.

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