Report: Most serious nursing home complaints in Mass. not investigated in required time

A report with the Office of the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said almost 75 percent of serious nursing home complaints reported in Massachusetts last year were not investigated in the required time.

Federal regulations require the most serious nursing home complaints to be investigated within two to 10 days, depending on the nature of the claim.

State agencies are responsible for investigating any complaints made at the more than 15,000 nursing homes across the country.

"It's really urgent that the state agency goes on site and starts its investigation,” Assistant Inspector General for Evaluation Erin Bliss said.

The report said more than 1,200 nursing home complaints were reported in Massachusetts from 2016 to 2018. The state has a lower number of complaints overall but one of the worst records for timeliness.

In 2018, 403 serious nursing home complaints were reported in the state and 298 were not investigated in the required time.

"In immediate jeopardy, there is an imminent risk to patient harm, injury or even death,” Bliss said.

Earlier this year, Maya Fischer, the daughter of a nursing home abuse victim, testified before a Senate House Committee on Capitol Hill about neglect and abuse in nursing homes.

Fischer’s mother suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and was sexually assaulted by a nursing home worker in Minnesota. The worker was later convicted of the crime.

"She was more vulnerable than an infant, Fischer said. "At 83 years old, unable to speak, unable to fight back."

"Nursing home residents are a particularly vulnerable population,” Bliss said. “That's why it's so important that the residents themselves and their loved ones have this mechanism for voicing their concerns.”