Filing a Nursing Home Abuse Complaint

If you have reason to believe that your parent or aged relative has suffered nursing home abuse at their nursing home, you can start out by addressing your concerns to the administrator of the home. In many cases, the problem is with one or two employees, but too often, the problem with a nursing home is systemic.

If you fail to get a satisfactory resolution from a nursing home, or if you have been assured that there either is no problem or that it has been addressed but conditions for the resident do not improve, it's time to contact the appropriate state agency to file a complaint.

Document Everything

Documentation is vital to your case. You should keep careful records of everything pertaining to the case including:

  • the basis of your accusation (visible signs of nursing home abuse, such as bed sores, including photos if possible)
  • the date at which you began to suspect nursing home abuse or nursing home neglect
  • who you spoke with at the nursing home and when
  • any response that was given
  • any action taken by management

You will need this information prior to you calling your state agency. This information will also become very important in the event that you pursue legal action and contact a nursing home abuse lawyer.

Who to Contact

Depending upon the laws in the state in which the nursing home is licensed to operate, it may come under the jurisdiction of the Department of Health or a different agency. Your state's Attorney General's office can give you the appropriate contact information. Another good place to start is your state's department of Adult Protective Services; you can find out about these resources at the federal National Council on Aging website.

Once you have contacted your state agency, the case worker with whom you speak will assign a case number and provide you with a number of forms that you must fill out. This is also when you will be asked to provide documentation of your claim.

If You Live Out of State

If you live in one state but your parent or relative is a resident of a nursing home in a different state, you will have to contact the agency in the state in which the facility is located. Much of the paperwork can be handled via mail, by phone, and over the Internet; however, there may very well be hearings at which you will be expected to testify. If for whatever reason you are unable to travel, you may need to confer power of attorney on someone in that state; alternatively, there is the possibility that you may be able to give a deposition to a local attorney who can submit it to the appropriate agency in the other state.

References:

Harshbarger, Scott. "Confronting Resident Abuse and Neglect." (Medquest Communications LLC, 1998)

US Administration on Aging. "Frequently Asked Questions." http://www.ncea.aoa.gov/ncearoot/Main_Site/FAQ/Questions.aspx (accessed January 15, 2010).