Section 1150B of the Social Security Act requires the reporting of “any reasonable suspicion of a crime . . . against any individual who is a resident of, or is receiving care from, the facility” to local law enforcement. An August 2014 report published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) estimates almost half of all such allegations of crimes against the elderly went unreported in 2012, in violation of federal law. Long-term care facilities must comply with this law by ensuring they implement sufficient reporting and notification procedures for suspicion of crimes against residents.
Federal law requires all nursing facilities to implement internal procedures and policies to address employee screening, training, prevention, identification, investigation, protection, and reporting/response. The reporting requirement requires reports of “alleged violations involving mistreatment, neglect, or abuse, including injuries of unknown source, and misappropriation of resident property.”
The law applies to all employees, owners, operators, and managers of nursing facilities. A nursing facility must give notice to its employees of their responsibilities under § 1150B in two ways: 1) notifying each individual (e.g., by letter or employee orientation form), and 2) conspicuously posting on the premises the individual’s obligations and rights, including the right to report without suffering retaliation.
Long-term care facilities should ensure they are complying with federal law by implementing proper notification and reporting procedures. All facilities should consult with their legal advisers periodically to ensure they are complying with the law and shielding themselves from potential liability.