In 1987, the federal government passed sweeping legislation aimed at protecting nursing home residents. According to Congressional findings, privately owned nursing homes were providing terribly inadequate care for seniors, often leading to abuse, neglect, and preventable deaths. As a response, Congress passed the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 (OBRA), which created oversight and a number of protective measures that would ultimately be delegated to the states. Today, states pass along the investigative responsibilities to volunteer ombudsman, many of whom lack training, support, and resources to fully survey abuse and neglect allegations.
Sadly, even in 2019, the majority of abuse allegations are never fully investigated, and many injuries and deaths go unreported. For instance, STAT News reports that even in this modern day and age, many nursing home residents pass away from suspicious causes, yet the facilities and their staff often conceal or obfuscate the evidence, leaving loved ones confused and frustrated.
HOW NURSING HOMES HIDE NEGLIGENCE AND ABUSE FROM THE PUBLIC
Many nursing homes, especially in rural areas, look for ways to hide mistakes. Here are a few examples:
- Not notifying family members in a timely manner
- Not turning over records to investigators
- Refusing to let relatives inspect nursing home charts and records
- Lying to government investigators
- Falsifying medical records
- Billing for services that were never provided
- Making up excuses for unexplained deaths
IT CAN BE HARD TO FIGURE OUT WHY AN INJURY OR DEATH HAPPENED
To understand how this all happens, it’s important to know what happens when a senior is injured in an Illinois rural nursing home.
Internal Investigations Are Private.
First, once a senior is hurt, the nursing staff will usually complete an incident report. Under the Illinois Medical Studies Act, facilities and their attorneys can lawfully conceal a lot of information contained in internal investigations, incident reports, and similar quality control meetings. The purpose of this privacy and secrecy is to encourage facilities to improve care without fear of the investigative reports being used as evidence of wrongdoing. Skilled nursing home abuse lawyers from Jerome, Salmi & Kopis continue to fight for justice, always looking for creative ways to obtain these crucial pieces of evidence in the face of unfair laws.
State Investigations Are Private.
Next, even reports and surveys from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and volunteer ombudsmen are not subject to subpoena or discovery in court. Therefore, it can be very difficult, if not impossible, to ever know what these entities discovered during their investigations. This doesn’t stop our attorneys from fighting for each and every bit of evidence that they can obtain through legal mechanisms.
Nursing Homes Withhold Records.
Finally, when family members request copies of the nursing home chart, they are frequently denied these requests, despite clear statutes that allow them to access these records. Nursing homes make up excuses such as:
- Claiming the relative doesn’t have authority
- Claiming the forms aren’t correct
- Charging high prices for copying and records duplication
- Providing partial or incomplete records
- Claiming that the healthcare authorizations aren’t sufficient
- Delaying responses
HOW TO EXPEDITE THE TRUTH
Perhaps the best way to get records and expedite an investigation into your loved one’s death is to work with a skilled nursing home abuse lawyer. When you contact Jerome, Salmi & Kopis, our talented team of attorneys and staff will launch a rapid investigation. Here is how we do it:
- We pay for ALL medical records on your behalf
- We use medical records clearinghouse technology to make sure the records are obtained quickly and with less fighting
- We consult with medical and nursing experts who can review records to help determine what happened
- We create a confidential investigation report of our own that will help you and your family get closure and truly understand what happened
- If there is negligence or a violation of a resident’s legal rights, we can aggressively advocate for justice by filing suit against the nursing home and anyone who may share in the responsibility for your loved one’s death
- We help resolve any claims or liens against the injured or deceased person’s estate
- We can even help open and administer a probate estate to protect your family’s rights
GETTING HELP STARTS WITH A PHONE CALL OR CONTACT FORM
Jerome, Salmi & Kopis is a local, boutique personal injury law firm, located conveniently in Fairview Heights, Illinois. Unlike big national firms who publicize themselves on late-night TV, our attorneys spend 100% of their time fighting for injured or neglected nursing home residents.
We charge nothing for our consultations, we collect nothing unless the victim and their family are compensated, and you will always know how to easily reach your attorney directly without going through layers of call centers, directories, and a legion of staff. We have just 7 people in our office, and our clients usually get to know all of them. We are small enough to care and get to know our clients on a first-name basis, but we have the resources to battle large corporations and insurance companies. We can take on even the biggest fights.
Call (618) 726-2222 or set up a free attorney consultation today. For those dealing with unexplained or suspicious deaths in rural Illinois nursing homes, there really is no better way to get the answers you deserve.