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March 27, 2013

Vermont lawmakers are seeking information regarding the state’s nursing home abuse cases after discovering that not all cases reported were investigated.

According to the Rutland Herald, a staff of phone screeners evaluated phone calls made to Adult Protective Services last year. Out of 1,829 calls of reported abuse, only half were handed over to investigators. As a result, lawmakers are seeking information about the rules used when handling complaints.

Last Thursday, legislature was granted approval to get quarterly reports from the Department of Disabilities, Aging, and Independent Living. Each report must explain the reasons for any calls that go unreported.

However, Governor Peter Shumlin shut down a similar law last year, stating that it would overwork state employees. The law was brought up when several people filed a lawsuit against the state for breach its contract to protect the elderly. Since then, according to Sandy Haas of the House Committee on Human Services, things have improved vastly with the Adult Protective Services in Vermont. Yet, the results of the recent screened calls was enough cause for concern.

In defense, Susan Wehry, commissioner of Disabilities, Aging, and Independent Living, says that many of the calls placed were self-neglect calls, and the agency call only refer those calls out instead of reporting them.

Meanwhile, victims with a legitimate case who were neglected can opt to hire their own nursing home abuse attorney and file for civil damages.


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