Nursing Home Abuse: How to Report or File a Complaint

If you think that your loved one has been abused in a nursing home, this is a very serious problem that you need to address right away. If the situation is very serious and could lead to serious injury or death, call 911 immediately.

In other cases, the typical first step is to go straight to the administrator of the nursing home and file a complaint. In many situations, the problem of nursing home abuse can often be because of one or two poor employees. But other times, the problem is more about the nursing home itself.

If you go to the nursing home administrator and the problem is not addressed to your satisfaction, you may need to contact the proper state agency in your area to file a complaint with the state government. It usually is recommended to file the report with the state regardless of the resolution of the case with administration.

Nursing Home Abuse Signs and Reporting

This article contains the basic steps that you will need to take to file a complaint for nursing home abuse. You should file a report with the nursing home and the appropriate state agency right away if you see any of these warning signs of nursing home abuse:

  • Bed sores
  • Loved one seems regularly upset and/or emotionally withdrawn
  • Silence and signs of fear around caregivers
  • Sudden changes in behavior that are not explained by medical condition
  • Changes in the person’s will
  • Changes in power of attorney
  • Sudden financial problems
  • Bleeding or bruising that has no explanation
  • Obvious physical discomfort
  • Infections and viruses that have no explanation

Where To Report the Nurse Home Abuse

If you have picked up on some signs of nursing home abuse, you have a duty to report it. If the person who sees the signs is a doctor or social worker, they are required by federal law to report it. There also are some states that require regular citizens to report any suspected nursing home abuse.

Depending upon the state laws where the abuse has occurred, the problem may be under the jurisdiction of that state’s department of health or a similar agency. The attorney general’s office in your state should be able to provide the proper contact information for where to report nursing home abuse. Another good resource is the state’s department of health services if it has one. The National Council on Aging website has many resources for reporting nursing home abuse in most states.

For example, in the state of Minnesota, you would contact the Minnesota Department of Health to report any type of adult abuse situation, including nursing home abuse

In Texas, the Office of the Attorney General works closely with the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) to protect residents of nursing homes from abuse in nursing homes and long term care facilities. The state website notes that if you suspect nursing home abuse, it is imperative to discuss the issue with the nursing home administration. You also should report it to DADS right away if the alleged event occurs in Texas. Other states have similar policies in place.

After you get in touch with the appropriate state agency, a state case worker should assign a case number to your file, and provide forms for you to fill out. This also is when you will probably need to provide extensive documentation of the alleged nursing home abuse.

Some other ways to report the abuse are to call the Eldercare locator national hotline at 1-800-677-1116 to learn about how to report the abuse in your specific state. Also, you can contact the primary healthcare provider for your loved one, as long as they are not part of the alleged abuse that is occuring.

As you go about reporting the alleged abuse, you should make sure that you do the following:

Clearly Document Everything

Documentation of the nursing home abuse is critical to proving the case. It is important to keep all records about the problem including the following information:

  • The basis of the nursing home abuse accusation. This should include a detailed, written explanation of the visible signs of nursing home abuse, such as bed sores, malnutrition, cuts and scrapes, etc. You should include pictures as much as possible.
  • The date on which you began to suspect that nursing home abuse was taking place.
  • The names of all people you spoke with at the nursing home about the alleged abuse.
  • Any response that you received.
  • Any actions that were taken by nursing home administration.

All of this information will be needed before you call the agency in your state to report the alleged abuse. All of the above information also becomes vital if you eventually file a lawsuit after contacting a nursing home abuse attorney.

For People Who Live Out of State

A common situation is alleged nursing home abuse happening in one state but you live in another state. If you are in this situation, you need to contact the appropriate state agency where the nursing home is located. Most of the paperwork can be done by mail and Internet. However, you may have to attend an in person hearing eventually. If you are unable to travel to this hearing, you may need to provide power of attorney to your representative in that state. Or, you may be able to give a deposition to an attorney in your area who may submit it to the appropriate state agency on your behalf.

After You Report the Nursing Home Abuse

After you have reported the abuse, there are still several serious matters to address. Even if the nursing home abuse is stopped and the perpetrator is punished, you still may want to pursue legal options, Many affected families hire a nursing home abuse lawyer to assist with the next steps. Keep in mind that a nursing home abuse lawsuit will be affected by the statute of limitations in that state. It could be two or three years, depending upon the jurisdiction.

One of the major challenges of this situation is the loved one may need to be moved to another nursing home. Most elderly people who are mentally capable will resist this type of major change. The person will probably have friends at their current facility. Although the current living situation could be bad, the senior might think that moving to another home could be worse.

Finding a new nursing home for your loved one is a challenging process that needs to be handled carefully. Your nursing home abuse attorney can help you with this process. He or she also can help you to file a civil lawsuit against the individuals or the nursing home that committed the abuse.

Additional Nursing Home Abuse Resources

References