New York City residents who believe their elderly or infirm loved ones may be experiencing abuse at the hands of the staffs of the facilities where they reside may want to quickly take action to stop it. One’s best chance of having his or case handled appropriately may be to report his or her suspicions directly to the appropriate state agency.
For New York, that is the Medical Fraud Control Unit of the state Attorney General’s office. They handle claims of physical, sexual, and financial abuse leveled against nursing homes and long-term care centers in the state. As nursing home neglect cases may involve several different and complex components, the MFCU is comprised of professionals from many different clinical and non-clinical disciplines, such as:
- Nurse analysts
- Financial auditors
The MFCU begins an abuse case by conducting a thorough investigation of the facility in question. These typically include reviews of patient records, complaint histories, and a facility’s policies, combined with interviews with staff and patients. The agency may even choose to conduct a hidden camera investigation to catch abusers in the act.
If an investigation warrants charges, the MFCU has authority to prosecute individual offenders, facility administrators, sponsoring organizations, and even health care providers who fail to report abuse. Penalties can range from a revocation of the licenses of the providers and facilities involved, to the possibility of criminal changes. Details of MFCU investigations may also benefit residents and families that file civil complaints.
However, the resources of the MFCU can only be employed if incidents are reported. Data shared by the National Center on Elder Abuse estimates that for every documented case of abuse, 24 more go unreported. Those who suspect abuse is happening are therefore encouraged to share their concerns with authorities immediately.