you suspect that an elder or loved one is suffering
from nursing home abuse
or that the facility is inadequately staffed or maintained,
there are several steps you should take. First, file
a complaint with the state in which you live. State
health agencies are required by law to investigate complaints
of nursing home abuse. In most jurisdictions, either
APS (Adult Protection Services), the Area Agency on
Aging, local State Department of Health Licensing or
Certification office or to the main office of the state
health agency, or the county Department of Social Services
is designated as the agency to receive and investigate
allegations of nursing home abuse and neglect. If
the investigators find nursing home abuse or neglect,
they make arrangements for services to help protect
home abuse complaints should include your:
Relationship to the victim of alleged offense
home abuse complaints should also include:
resident's given name and any other name they
condition or medical problems leading to the
resident's stay at the nursing home.
outline of the nursing
home abuse complaint that describes the circumstances
and details of the problem. This should include
time and dates when of the offense, the name
and shift of applicable nursing home staff (or
nursing home staff that you have discussed you
have spoken to.
Any applicable nursing home medical records
(i.e. needing to go to the emergency room or
hospital). Make copies of these records to reduce
the chance of the hospital mysteriously "misplacing"
the complaint involves the death of an elder,
obtain a copy of the autopsy, which should be
included in your complaint to the state.
home abuse complaints do not need to be lengthy
or overly complicated. They should, however,
include all of the pertinent and applicable
information to give the state health agencies
the as much direction as possible.
The state agent handling the nursing home abuse case
is supposed to contact the individual who filed the
complaint to discuss it in more detail. Many states
tell you that they will contact you within a few days
of receiving your complaint.
The agent is then supposed to make a surprise visit
to the facility to investigate the specific nursing
home abuse complaint. In the case that the alleged offense
is found to be true, the state will take whatever steps
they feel is appropriate.
Another important step when you send your nursing home
abuse complaint into the state is to send a copy of
the complaint to the Association for the Protection
of the Elderly (APE). These organizations exist in most
states and can assist you in making sure the state properly
investigates the nursing home abuse complaint. Note
that the state keeps these complaints confidential for
the protection of the parties involved. Therefore, if
you do not send a copy to APE, it will be extremely
difficult for them to help you make sure the state takes
the appropriate actions.
Alerting the state about a specific nursing home abuse
offenses does not always bring you the justice that
you and your loved ones deserve. Taking legal action
is often the quickest and most direct route to obtaining
justice for institutional elder abuse. Keep an extra
copy of your complaint form(s) to present to your attorney.
To contact an experienced nursing home abuse attorney,
please click here.