A report published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in January of 2018 discussed how injuries, illnesses and deaths that occur in group homes often go unreported. Developmentally disabled individuals often reside in these types of housing.
Federal inspectors audited group home safety reports in at least three states. They found that many officials failed to follow up on reports of injuries and deaths even though they were required to by state and federal law. The inspectors concluded that the issues with injuries and officials’ failure to follow up on them were likely widespread. They recommended policy changes as a result.
The U.S. Senate had originally requested that regulators evaluate injury and illness rates in group homes back in 2013. Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy demanded an investigation after reading news stories about group home residents being hurt or killed here.
Inspectors scoured emergency room (ER) data to see how many group home residents were seen in the state. They then set out to determine how many of these visits were reported to the state. The inspectors then tried to determine what course of action those officials took.
The inspectors determined that many of the incidents of injury weren’t reported to state officials. Even when they were, the facilities didn’t notify law enforcement agencies as they were required to. The inspectors initiated their investigation in Connecticut then expanded it to Massachusetts and Maine. They found reports of problems in 49 states.
Soon after the HHS’ report was published, the Centers for Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that they’d assembled a panel to identify group home residents’ safety concerns. They also announced that they’d begun working with officials in the three states that they’d previously audited.
A CMS statement noted that they intended to be more proactive is providing tools and assistance to state officials. The statement said that the agency hoped this would ensure that all Medicaid beneficiaries received an adequate standard of care.
Group homes, if appropriately run, can provide those with developmental disabilities with an opportunity to gain experience in living independently. Bad things can happen if residents aren’t properly supervised or premises aren’t kept as safe.
If a loved one has suffered an injury while living in a group home, then a medical malpractice attorney can provide valuable guidance.