Long-term care facilities, including nursing homes, long-term chronic care hospitals, or rehabilitation facilities, are often used to provide for the needs of older adults who are no longer able to adequately care for themselves. They serve a critical role in meeting the complex needs of the older adults they served, including but not limited to advance-care planning, symptom management, psychosocial support, nursing, rehabilitation, and medical care. These facilities are regulated in part by state laws overseen by attorneys general.
Utilization of long-term care facilities, however, entail considerations that residents and their family members and friends should keep in mind.
Some of the risks presented in long-term care facilities can result from staff negligence are bed sores, falls, and medication errors. Additionally, inadequate infection control caused by understaffing, the failure of staff to consistently use clean personal protective equipment, partition off infected residents, and effectively identify sick residents and staff can endanger both residents and staff.
Staff can be negligent in how they performed an act or negligent by failing to take a course of action. Neglect directly involves an omission and can fall within the scope of negligence or abuse.
Residents, their family members, and friends should also be vigilant about the risks presented by intentional bad actors, such as staff who may physically or psychologically abuse or neglect residents or financially exploit vulnerable residents. Individuals who suspect any type of abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation in a long-term care facility should contact their attorney general’s office.
Advocacy for Long-Term Care Residents
The Long-term Care Ombudsman Program (LTCOP) provides assistance to residents in long-term care facilities and operates in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam. The program is part of the Administration for Community Living, which falls under the Department of Health and Human Services.
Under federal law, the Ombudsman Program addresses problems that affect the health, safety, welfare, and rights of long-term care residents. The LTCOP also has the right to:
- Enter all long-term care facilities.
- Access all residents.
- Access name and contact information for resident representatives.
- Review medical, social, and other records relating to residents.
Medicaid provider fraud costs American taxpayers an incalculable amount of money and hinders the integrity of the Medicaid program. State Medicaid Fraud Control Units (MFCUs), the majority of which are in state attorney general offices, have long been in the forefront of health care fraud enforcement. Learn more about Medicaid Fraud and the role attorneys general play in enforcement and prevention.
Attorneys general use their positions to address public health challenges in several ways. Whether its litigating against companies that have negatively impacted the health of local consumers or using their platform as state officials to promote healthy habits during a pandemic, attorneys general play a significant role in public health within their jurisdictions. Learn more about state attorneys general work around public health issues.