Have You Witnessed Nursing Home Abuse?
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Reporting Nursing Home Abuse: What You Should Know
Nursing home abuse is a distressingly common issue with severe and fatal consequences. The National Institute on Aging (NIA) advises promptly reporting abuse.
Fortunately, concerned family members have various avenues for reporting nursing home abuse:
- Elder justice groups
- Local police or law enforcement
- Long-term care ombudsmen
- Medical professionals, such as doctors or nurses
Regrettably, many cases of nursing home abuse go unreported. In fact, according to the Associated Press, approximately 6,600 potential cases of abuse or neglect in nursing homes and assisted living facilities went unreported in 2016 alone. Furthermore, the National Research Council revealed that only 1 in 14 instances of elder abuse are reported.
It is always advisable to report any suspected nursing home abuse. If a resident cannot voice their concerns, their family should take immediate action on their behalf.
Seeking the Appropriate Authorities
You can contact law enforcement, doctors, elder advocates, and even attorneys to report nursing home abuse.
For emergencies or immediate danger to a senior, dial 911. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services advises contacting emergency services as it enables prompt medical assistance for the victim and alerts the police to potential safety lapses in the nursing home.
Reporting nursing home abuse to a local agency may be more appropriate if there is no immediate danger. For instance, you can contact your state’s Adult Protective Services (APS) branch, which investigates suspected cases of abuse and works towards finding resolutions. Seek assistance from the APS branch in your state.
National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA)
Established in 1988, the NCEA connects seniors with resources to help them in case of abuse. Although the NCEA does not directly investigate abuse reports, it offers guidance and resources for affected seniors. The NCEA conducts its research on elder abuse and works to educate the public on the issue. Learn more by visiting the official website of the NCEA.
Doctors and Medical Experts
Doctors and other medical professionals can evaluate whether a nursing home resident’s injuries resulted from accidents or abuse. For instance 2018, a nursing home resident suffered broken bones and deep cuts after a three-week stay in a nursing facility. Doctors disagreed while the staff claimed that the resident had scratched herself with a coat hanger. Subsequently, a nursing home staff member was sentenced to 12 years in prison for assaulting the resident.
Long-Term Care Ombudsman
Consulting a long-term care ombudsman is another means of reporting nursing home abuse. Ombudsmen advocate for the rights of nursing home patients and work to resolve resident-related issues with facilities, staff members, or caregivers.
Long-term care ombudsmen perform the following duties:
- Inform residents about changes in nursing home laws.
- Listen to concerns expressed by residents and their family members.
- Provide information about various long-term care services.
- Take necessary actions to ensure residents’ safety, well-being, and happiness.
Every U.S. state and the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico have a Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. Locate a program in your area through the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center.
Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys
Consulting a nursing home lawyer may be beneficial if you or a loved one has experienced elder abuse. Attorneys at reputable law firms possess the expertise to report nursing homes for abuse within the legal system. They can help secure financial compensation from long-term care facilities, which can be utilized for medical bills and other related expenses.
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According to a 2019 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), residents may hesitate to report nursing home abuse due to fears of potential mistreatment from staff or caregivers. Fortunately, nursing home abuse reports often remain confidential. For instance, complaints filed with an ombudsman are kept confidential unless consent is given. Confirm with the person or organization you’re filing the report with to ascertain if confidentiality can be maintained.
Noting Signs and Gathering Evidence of Nursing Home Abuse
When reporting nursing home abuse, providing information about possible signs indicating harm inflicted upon your loved one is essential.
Common signs of nursing home abuse include:
- Bruising near the genital area
- Cuts, burns, broken bones, or scrapes
- Negative changes in the resident’s behavior or emotions
- Unexplained illnesses or infections
Document these warning signs in as much detail as possible.
You can record them through the following means:
- Observing behavior: Take note of any changes in the resident’s mood or activities.
- Taking pictures: With consent, capture pictures or videos of their injuries.
- Interviewing witnesses: Obtain written or recorded statements from the resident or witnesses.
Having evidence of abuse is crucial. While all reports of nursing home abuse are treated seriously, supporting evidence strengthens the claim.
Steps to Take After Reporting Nursing Home Abuse
The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care recommends several measures to ensure the safety of a resident after reporting nursing home abuse:
- Ensure the elder receives appropriate care and support for recovery.
- Follow up with the investigators handling the abuse case.
- Request copies of the investigation’s findings if legally permissible.
Additionally, you may consider taking further action to enhance the well-being of your loved one, such as relocating them from the nursing home where the abuse occurred to improve their quality of life. Consulting a nursing home abuse lawyer can provide insights into your legal options.
Depending on the outcome of the investigation or court proceedings, an abusive nursing home staff member may be prevented from working at other facilities and could face fines or imprisonment.
Assistance in Reporting Nursing Home Abuse
Never hesitate to report signs of abuse, as it is better to act than to endure tragic consequences. Regularly visiting your loved one in the nursing home can help identify potential mistreatment or neglect during your visits.
Obtain a free legal case review today to acquire more information about reporting nursing home abuse.
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FAQs About Reporting Nursing Home Abuse
How Can I Report Elder Abuse in a Nursing Home?
You can report elder abuse in a nursing home by taking the following steps:
- Contact the proper authorities: If you believe your loved one is in immediate danger, call 911 or the emergency services in your country. They can provide an immediate response to ensure their safety. In situations that are not emergencies, you can contact your state’s Adult Protective Services (APS) branch. APS investigates cases of suspected abuse and works towards finding solutions.
- Reach out to local authorities: Local law enforcement agencies can also be contacted to report nursing home abuse. They have the jurisdiction to investigate criminal matters and ensure the safety of the residents.
- Consult with medical professionals: Doctors and other medical experts can help assess the extent of injuries or determine if they were caused by abuse. They can provide valuable documentation and expert opinions that support your case.
- Engage elder advocacy organizations: Organizations such as the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) can provide advice, resources, and support for seniors who have experienced abuse. While they may not directly investigate reports of abuse, they can offer guidance and connect you with the appropriate resources.
- Consult with a nursing home abuse attorney: If you or your loved one has suffered from elder abuse, it may be helpful to seek legal representation. Nursing home abuse attorneys specialize in handling cases related to elder abuse and can guide you through the legal process. They can help you gather evidence, navigate the complexities of the legal system, and pursue compensation for the harm caused.
Remember, reporting nursing home abuse is crucial to ensure the safety and well-being of your loved ones. Prompt action can help prevent further harm and hold the responsible parties accountable.
Please note that the information provided here is for general guidance, and it’s important to consult with professionals and legal experts for specific advice related to your situation.
Do You Know of or Suspect Nursing Home Abuse?
Maybe you’re not sure if nursing home abuse is happening or you’re just not completely comfortable reporting the home just yet.
If this is the case, then we encourage you to review these 10 things you can do if you’re even the smallest bit suspicious about the home’s care.