* This is just incomprehensible to me…
The state agency created to prevent neglect and abuse of disabled adults who live at home rejects hundreds of hotline calls for help each year and doesn’t investigate when people die after severe mistreatment. […]
But when the subject of a hotline call is hospitalized and dies soon after, the OIG closes the case without investigating the circumstances surrounding the death because of the agency’s interpretation of state law. According to OIG documents, the agency is prohibited from investigating the moment a death occurs.
The OIG considers such an investigation a “service,” and the dead are “ineligible for services” under the agency’s interpretation of Rule 51 — a legislative directive that governs the Adults with Disabilities Abuse Project, the OIG documents state.
What the Office of Inspector General is saying is just bizarre. If the person surves the alleged abuse, then there will be a full investigation. But if the patient dies, possibly of extreme neglect, then there will be no investigation because the dead person is “ineligible for services.”
That sounds like something right out of Kafka.
What the heck is going on over at the Department of Human Services?
* Kudos to the Belleville News Democrat for unearthing these atrocities…
Nurses, doctors, social workers or hospital staff called the state abuse hotline in nearly half of the 53 deaths examined by the News-Democrat. But even demands from medical professionals asking why a disabled adult ended up in their emergency room, often in horrible condition, did not prompt the OIG to investigate.
Those deaths included Barbara Coleman, a 56-year-old Pittsfield woman dying from kidney failure who was taken to a Springfield emergency room on Nov. 18, 2009, with a large abscess on her neck filled with maggots. She died two days later.
“Based on the facts here, we conclude the following: (Coleman) passed away at the hospital and the assessment could not be completed. Therefore, we stopped this assessment process without a finding,” the OIG case file concluded.
Bonnie Matyasik, 51, who was suffering from end-stage cirrhosis, arrived at an emergency room Jan. 26, 2009, near Chicago with dried feces in her hair and under her fingernails. Matyasik was bruised and scraped along one entire side of her body from being dragged across a concrete floor by her mentally impaired caregiver. She died two days later.
On May 6, 2011, authorities responding to a 911 call found Kevin Kage, the 1986 Illinois muscular dystrophy poster child, lying in a bed soiled with feces and urine, unable to move and covered with bedsores that had eaten through flesh to the bone. The 33-year-old Kage died four days later in the intensive care unit of a Wisconsin hospital.
* Some heads really need to roll here…
The law in part reads: “This Act shall be liberally construed and applied to promote its underlying purposes, which are to prevent, reduce and eliminate abuse, neglect and exploitation of adults with disabilities.”
“It breaks your heart to see anybody subjected to this kind of abuse and the state not taking appropriate action,” said former state Rep. Lee Daniels, R-Elmhurst, who helped guide passage of the bill. “To allow this to continue is criminal inaction.”
Thomas F. Coleman, the attorney for the Disability and Abuse Project in Los Angeles, a private coalition of medical professionals and volunteers dedicated to assisting the disabled, reviewed the 2000 Illinois statute and Rule 51.
“These laws do not state that an investigation need not be done if the victim is not receiving services. So the ‘no services because they are dead’ excuse is just that — a shallow and meaningless excuse for closing a case. There is no statutory authorization to close an investigation or refuse to initiate one because the victim is dead,” he said. “Whoever came up with that rule should be exposed.”
Go read the whole thing.