Madigan bill to review suspicious deaths passes committee

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced Wednesday that the House Human Services Committee passed a bill to establish review teams to look into suspicious at-home deaths of disabled or elderly Illinoisans.

House Bill 2643 would create the Vulnerable Adult Facility Review Team Act, a multi-disciplinary team of professionals to examine deaths of elderly adults or adults with physical and mental disabilities receiving care in private residences. Rep. Robert Martwick (D-19th) sponsored the bill, which was created in conjunction with Madigan’s office.

“This legislation fills a critical gap in state law, requiring authorities to thoroughly investigate and determine the cause of suspicious at-home deaths of elderly or disabled individuals,” Madigan said. “The results will allow the state to make further changes to prevent similar tragedies and improve services for people who receive at-home care.”

The bill would call for review teams to assess the at-home death of a disabled or elderly Illinoisan if the death is of a suspicious nature or a death that involves blunt force trauma, if the case was referred by a healthcare provider, if the deceased’s attending physician requests a review or if the adult was the subject of a case suspected abuse, neglect or financial exploitation.

The legislation is based on the Child Death Review Team Act and the Abuse Prevention Review Team Act. There are currently no review teams to evaluate the deaths of adults between the age of 18 and 59 with mental or physical disabilities living in private residences.

Madigan’s legislation is part of an effort to increase protections for the most vulnerable residents of Illinois. In 2010, Madigan launched Operation Guardian to allow state and local agencies to conduct compliance checks at nursing home facilities. Madigan also instituted the requirement of background and criminal history checks for nursing home residents to identify people who might pose a threat to others in the facilities. She also authored the Resident’s Right to Know Act, which requires nursing homes to complete an annual report to detail security issues, service and standard of care.