Even though various factors cause millions of elderly people to reside in nursing homes across the country, the period between 2011 and 2015 saw a slight decrease in the occupancy of skilled nursing home facilities. Unfortunately though, the same period saw a 33 percent increase in the number of nursing home complaints handled by state authorities. A brief released by the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services highlights the issue and the extent to which nursing home complaints are investigated within the given time frame.

Though the number of high priority complaints decreased between 2011 and 2015 in Massachusetts-from 478 to 285-it was alarming to see that the number of these complaints not investigated within 10 days increased-from 183 in 2011 to 232 in 2015. A high priority case is one that is defined as a complaint about harm to a patient’s physical or mental health. An immediate jeopardy case is one that involves the death or injury of the resident and states have two days to investigate those cases-the OIG found that all four that took place in 2015 were investigated within the allotted two days.

Given the OIG’s findings, they concluded that the most common complaints were related to the quality of case or treatment. This is a shame, since these nursing homes are being compensated and relied upon to provide a certain standard of care to the residents and, when they fall short of that standard, they end up significantly injuring a resident, not only physically but also emotionally.

If a family member or loved one is injured by the quality of care being provided to them, it may be possible to hold the nursing home accountable for their negligence through a medical malpractice suit. Not only would this provide compensation to cover the medical costs associated with the injury, but it could also increase awareness about the nursing home’s practices.