It is difficult enough for most people to send aged or infirm relatives to nursing homes when they believe good care will be provided. But the thought that frail elderly parents or incapacitated younger patients may be victims of neglect or active abuse is intolerable.
In Ohio, concern about that may be increasing - with good reason.
Attorney General Mike DeWine reports complaints about nursing home abuse and neglect have nearly doubled this year. His office's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit is investigating 131 cases, compared to 74 for the same period in 2012.
About half this year's complaints have been received during the past month, after DeWine announced his office will be aggressive in pursuing complaints of substandard nursing home care or abuse of patients.
DeWine - and those who place relatives or friends in nursing homes - have a new weapon to ensure quality care is provided. It was used earlier this year in Zanesville.
There, investigators placed surveillance cameras in the rooms of some patients, with their knowledge and that of families. Nursing home personnel were unaware they were being watched, however.
Videotape from some of the rooms revealed "absolutely shocking and disturbing" treatment of patients, DeWine said.
Crimes against nursing home patients should be uncovered and the perpetrators punished as harshly as the law allows. Willful neglect should be treated the same way.
And when nursing home operators have not taken adequate steps to protect patients, they, too, should suffer. Proceedings are in progress to revoke the Zanesville home's license.
Most nursing homes and the dedicated personnel who staff them provide good care for patients. In many cases, it is not too much to say residents of nursing homes are treated lovingly.
That makes is especially upsetting that a few people in a handful of facilities are neglecting and/or abusing patients. DeWine should make it a top priority to find and punish those criminals.