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Opinion: State has to do better investigating nursing home abuse

In a recent media commentary, a disability policy specialist takes a strong and critical aim at the New Jersey legislature for alleged passivity and inaction that is undermining the legal rights and adequate care of developmentally disabled persons in state nursing homes and other residential care units.

Dr. Salvatore Pizzuro says that families of the developmentally disabled "have lost any trust or confidence in the ability of the state's Department of Human Services (DHS) to protect their loved ones" and that lawmakers are doing little to assuage concerns regarding nursing home negligence and abuse.

Currently, the responsibility for looking into claims of neglect and abuse in New Jersey lies solely with the DHS. Complaints concerning abuses and lack of adequate investigation, however, led to a resolution being passed earlier this year in the state Assembly to turn oversight over to the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General. The resolution garnered a clear majority of votes.

Unfortunately, says Pizzuro, the resolution "went nowhere," with the New Jersey Senate never putting it to a vote. Investigatory control continues to reside in the Special Response Unit of the DHS.

Pizzuro says that "only a small fraction" of reported neglect and abuse cases are ever followed through on, which renders New Jersey's developmentally disabled population the state's "forgotten people."

That is a travesty, states Pizzuro, who says that the state simply has to do better.

If your parent or other loved one has been injured as a result of nursing home abuse or neglect, please contact Breslin & Breslin for a free consultation.

Source: newjerseynewsroom.com, "N.J.'s 'forgotten people':the developmentally disabled," Salvatore Pizzuro, Oct. 2, 2012

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