How to Report Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect
Nursing home abuse is an all-too-common problem that can be seriously harmful or even deadly. The National Institute on Aging (NIA) suggests reporting abuse as soon as possible.
Thankfully, family members have many options to report nursing home abuse.
Families can report nursing home abuse by contacting:
- Elder justice groups
- Local police or law enforcement
- Long-term care ombudsmen
- Medical professionals like doctors or nurses
Sadly, nursing home abuse often goes unreported. In 2016 alone, the Associated Press found that roughly 6,600 cases of possible abuse or neglect in nursing homes and assisted living facilities were not reported. The National Research Council also found that only 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse gets reported.
It is always a good idea to report cases of possible nursing home abuse. If a resident is not willing or able to speak up, their family should take immediate action on their behalf.
Report nursing home neglect and abuse right now. Get started with a free legal case review.
Who Can I Report Nursing Home Neglect or Abuse to?
You can report nursing home abuse to law enforcement, doctors, elder advocates, and even attorneys.
Arguably the most important — and fastest — way to report nursing home abuse is to call 911.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says to call 911 if a senior is in danger. 911 provides an immediate response to the problem.
This is key for two reasons:
- It allows first responders to treat a victim as quickly as possible.
- It notifies the police that a nursing home may be failing to keep elders safe.
If there’s not an emergency, it may be better to report nursing home abuse to another local agency. For example, you can contact your state’s Adult Protective Services (APS) branch.
The APS investigates cases of suspected abuse and works to find solutions. Get help from the APS branch in your state.
Through the Eldercare Locator, families can find senior advocacy services in their area by simply entering a ZIP code.
It also provides details on housing, insurance, and transportation.
Families can access the Eldercare Locator by visiting eldercare.acl.gov or by calling its hotline at 1-800-677-1116.
National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA)
Established in 1988, the NCEA connects seniors to resources that can help them if abuse occurs.
While the NCEA does not investigate reports of abuse, it offers advice and resources for seniors who have been harmed.
The NCEA also conducts its own research into elder abuse and works to educate the public about the issue. To learn more, visit the NCEA’s official website.
Doctors and Medical Experts
Doctors and other medical experts may be able to determine if a nursing home resident’s injuries were caused by an accident or abuse.
For example, in 2018 a nursing home resident suffered from broken bones and deep cuts after a three-week stay in a nursing facility. Nursing home staff claimed the resident scratched herself with a coat hanger, but doctors thought otherwise.
A nursing home staff member was later sentenced to 12 years in prison for assaulting the woman.
Long-Term Care Ombudsman
Another way to report nursing home abuse is to speak with a long-term care ombudsman.
Ombudsmen stand up for nursing home patients’ rights. If a resident has a problem with a facility, staff members, or other caregivers, ombudsmen work to resolve it.
A long-term care ombudsman:
- Informs residents about new changes in nursing home laws
- Listens to the concerns of the resident and their family members
- Provides information about different long-term care services
- Takes action to keep residents safe, healthy, and happy
Every U.S. state, along with the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico, has a Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program.
Families can find a program in their area through the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center.
Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys
If you or a loved one has suffered from elder abuse, you might want to reach out to a nursing home lawyer.
Attorneys at top law firms know how to report a nursing home for abuse within the legal system. They can get financial compensation from long-term care facilities so you can pay for medical bills and other expenses.
According to a 2019 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), residents may not report nursing home abuse out of fear that the staff or care providers will treat them worse.
Thankfully, a nursing home abuse report can often remain confidential. For example, complaints filed with an ombudsman remain confidential unless consent is given.
Ask the person or group you’re filing with if your report will stay confidential.
Noting Signs and Evidence of Nursing Home Abuse
When you report nursing home abuse, it’s helpful to mention possible signs that your loved one has been harmed.
Common signs of nursing home abuse include:
- Bruising near genitals
- Cuts, burns, broken bones, or scrapes
- Negative changes in the resident’s behaviors or emotions
- Unexplained illnesses or infections
The warning signs of nursing home abuse should be documented in as much detail as possible.
Families can document signs of nursing home abuse by:
Noting any changes in the resident’s mood/activities
Documenting pictures or videos of their injuries (with consent)
Writing or recording statements from the resident or witnesses
Having evidence of abuse is very important. While all nursing home abuse reports are taken seriously, evidence makes the claim stronger.
Steps to Take After Reporting Nursing Home Abuse
The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care notes that there are several ways to keep a resident safe after you report nursing home abuse.
The National Consumer Voice recommends:
- Getting the elder proper care and support so they can recover
- Following up with those investigating the abuse
- Asking for copies of the investigation’s findings (if legally allowed)
You may also want to take further action to ensure the safety of your loved one. For example, you can move them out of the nursing home where they were harmed to improve their quality of life.
You can also contact a nursing home abuse lawyer who can tell you about your legal options.
Depending on investigation and/or court findings, an abusive nursing home staff member may be prevented from working at other facilities. They may also face fines or time behind bars.
Get Help to Report Nursing Home Abuse
You should never feel like you are overreacting when you see signs of abuse. It is better to report nursing home abuse than to deal with a tragic ending.
One of the best ways to ensure your loved one does not become a victim of nursing home abuse is to visit them on a regular basis. Keep an eye out for any signs of mistreatment or neglect when you visit.
To learn more about reporting nursing home abuse, get a free legal case review today. Our team of elder advocates is standing by to help you.
FAQs About Reporting Nursing Home Abuse
How do you report elder abuse in a nursing home?
You can report abuse by contacting the proper authorities (911, Adult Protective Services, or a nursing home ombudsman). It’s crucial to report elder abuse of any kind quickly to keep your loved ones safe.
How do I report negligence in a nursing home?
You report nursing home negligence in the same ways that you report nursing home abuse.
Always call 911 if your loved one is in immediate danger due to nursing home neglect or negligence.
You can also report negligence to nursing home ombudsmen, doctors, or elder abuse attorneys.
Want to report nursing home negligence right now? Call (855) 264-6310.
Are there any reporting requirements for nursing home abuse?
Some states require those who work with older people to file reports if they think nursing home abuse is taking place.
Further, staff in facilities that receive $10,000 or more in federal funds are also required to report possible abuse or neglect under the Elder Justice Act.
A nursing home abuse lawyer can tell you how reporting laws can affect your case – if at all. For best results, report nursing home abuse as soon as possible so your elder can get the care they need.