The 4 ways to report nursing home abuse and neglect
Nursing home abuse and neglect are absolutely tragic, and what's even more tragic is that they're underreported.
If you have a loved one in a nursing home, it's important to know what to do if you suspect something might be wrong: how to identify abuse, and how to report it. You are your loved one's best advocate, and your intervention may not only protect your loved one but other residents, as well.
Know the warning signs of abuse and neglect
Above all, you know your loved one best. If something is out of the ordinary, it could be a red flag. Here are some of the most common warning signs of abuse or neglect:
- Restricting access to residents. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has made some restrictions necessary, but nursing homes still need to give you as much access to your loved one as possible, even if it's via phone or video chat.
- Changes in mood. If your loved one becomes withdrawn or less talkative than before, that may be a sign they're uncomfortable talking about abuse or neglect.
- Unexplained medical problems. People in nursing homes do become sicker at times, but the nursing home should be able to document what happened and what was done about it.
- Discrepancies in records. Make sure you're involved in your loved one's treatment meetings and reviewing their records. If their billing and medical records don't match up, or records are missing, that's a red flag.
- Financial changes. Was your loved one's will changed? Are there unexplained withdrawals from their bank account? That's a massive red flag.
Nursing home abuse and neglect often go undetected because there are plausible explanations for many of these warning signs. Negligent nursing homes can be very good at hiding evidence or explaining things away. That's why it's so important to be your loved one's advocate and raise the alarm if something seems off.
How to report nursing home abuse or neglect
There are four main ways to report abuse or neglect in a nursing home:
- Report to the nursing home's management. Speak with the administrator of the nursing home and explain your concerns. Get this documented in writing so they can't later claim they were unaware of the abuse or neglect. This is an important step but it absolutely can't be your only step.
- File a report with the appropriate state agency. Contact the long-term care ombudsman serving your state to file a confidential report. You can contact the Alabama long-term care ombudsman here and the Georgia long-term care ombudsman here.
- Call the police. If you believe your loved one is the victim of a crime such as elder abuse or sexual assault, call local law enforcement to investigate.
- Contact a nursing home abuse and neglect attorney. Remember, state agencies and law enforcement are primarily concerned with the perpetrators of abuse and neglect, not the victims. An attorney can stand up for your loved one's legal rights and fight for fair compensation.
If you have any reason to believe your loved one may have been neglected or abused in a nursing home, we'd be honored to meet with you for a free and confidential consultation. You deserve answers about your legal rights and options. Contact Braswell Murphy & Grubb today to speak with an experienced attorney.