If you have witnessed nursing home abuse, you have an obligation to report the abuse to the authorities. Each state has its own department that oversees the nursing home industry. Complaints regarding a specific case of abuse in a nursing home should be made either via telephone, a letter, or a web form to this department.
When you are researching how to report nursing home abuse, it is important that you follow the correct procedure in your state. Some states require you to file all complaints in writing, along with your name. Others allow people to file complaints against nursing homes anonymously or by phone.
Resolving Nursing Home Problems
If a nursing home receives Medicare or Medicaid payments, it must follow federal rules and regulations in addition to any state regulations. To become a Medicare- and Medicaid-certified facility, the nursing home must follow certain rules regarding the filing of complaints. Some of the options you have to make a complaint include:
- Filing a complaint with your loved one’s doctor.
- Filing a complaint with your state’s long-term care ombudsman.
Working with State Agencies
Medicare regulations require that the nursing home posts the names and contact information for any state agencies that will help with the complaint process in cases of abuse. Although these agencies vary by state, some of the most common options include:
- A state ombudsman program
- A Medicaid fraud control unit
- A senior protection and advocacy department
- A state licensure office
Your state may have additional options for reporting abuse in a nursing home setting.
You may be unsure if the situation you witnessed at a nursing home warrants reporting a case of abuse. After all, accusing a nursing home of abuse is a serious charge, and you want to be certain you are doing the right thing.
- Physical abuse: staff may have struck a resident or injured them while moving them in an unsafe manner.
- Sexual abuse: staff may be abusing residents sexually, including assault, or forcing them to watch sexually explicit material.
- Neglect: staff may cause harm to a resident by creating problems through unintentional action or inaction.
- Improper hygiene: staff does not change bed linens regularly or help residents bathe properly.
- Improper nutrition: staff does not ensure that a resident is receiving the proper nutrition or nourishment.
- Lack of social opportunities: staff leaves a resident alone for hours at a time or does not provide the proper number of social activities.
- Allowing falls: staff does not provide the help residents need to move around the facility, potentially leading to a fall.
- Psychological abuse: staff bullies or threatens residents to encourage compliance.
- Financial exploitation: staff withholds necessary care items or comfort items.
There are several other signs of abuse that are not listed here. If you are unsure whether a situation you witnessed was actually abuse, you should still report the incident. It is better to be careful in cases like this.
Who Can Report Abuse?
Anyone who witnesses abuse or neglect at a nursing home may report it to the proper authorities. These people include:
- Family of residents
- Friends of residents
- Visitors to the nursing home
- Employees of the nursing home
It is helpful when reporting an abusive situation to take note of the time and date of the abuse, as well as the location in the building where it occurred. Photograph any injuries. It is important to give as much detail as possible to the authorities.
Protecting Your Loved Ones
Even if your loved one at the nursing home was not the recipient of the abuse, you should report the incident.
Do not assume that someone else will take care of reporting the problem or know how to report nursing home abuse. Often, nursing homes will not act to stop neglect and other problems unless a third party steps in and makes a request.
If you have followed the proper procedures on how to report nursing home abuse, but you still feel like your complaints have gone ignored, you may need to hire a nursing home lawyer to protect the rights of your loved one. Look to Pintas & Mullins Law Firm to ensure nursing homes follow the law and end any neglect and abuse. Call us today at (800) 201-3999 for a free consultation. We work on a contingency-fee-basis, so you do not pay unless we win.