How to Report Nursing Home Abuse
Written by Jeff Meyer on March 20, 2015
One of the biggest issues of nursing home abuse is that it can be very hard to identify and define in a way that can be reported properly. Often, the abuse actually does go completely unreported for a number of reasons, including patients who don’t see loved ones very often, loved ones who don’t know what to do, and abuse that is hard to notice. Additionally, many elderly individuals have memory problems or they don’t have the ability to communicate well, so they cannot tell of their abuse when they are visited by loved ones. There is research indicating that the vast majority of nursing home abuse cases never get reported, and they can include everything from physical to emotional to even sexual and financial abuse of the elderly resident.
Even though so many go unreported, the number of nursing home abuse cases that are reported is absolutely frightening. The Special Investigations Division of the House Government Reform Committee actually handled a two-year study that indicated that abuse happened in more than a quarter of the nursing homes researched. The most common issues that were found in nursing homes included no hygienic care, lack of medical service, accidents that could have been prevented, bedsores, and malnutrition.
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
When you go to visit your elderly loved one, you need to ensure you are watching for signs of abuse. They may not be able to communicate the abuse to you or they may even be afraid to. While it can be very hard to see the signs of abuse, some of the things you can watch for include:
- Presence of Bedsores
- Withdrawal from Social Contact
- Obvious Changes in Behavior
- Unexplained Changes to the Will
- Unexplained Changes to Power of Attorney
- Unpaid Bills and other Financial Problems
- Bleeding Wounds
- Lack of Hygiene
- Unexplained Infections or Diseases
If a loved one sees these signs of abuse, it is important to report the problem as soon as possible.
Where to Report Nursing Home Abuse
Doctors, social workers, nurses, and other professionals are required by law to report signs of nursing home abuse. In some states, everyone is required by law to report nursing home abuse. No matter what, though, if anyone sees the signs, then they should report the issue as soon as possible. There are several ways to do this.
Where to Report the Abuse
As mentioned, there are a few different ways that nursing home abuse can be reported depending on the situation. Anyone who needs to get in contact with the right authorities can do one of the following:
- Contact Eldercare Locator, open during the week, to get more information on state laws and regulations. They can be reached at 800-677-1116.
- Go to the National Eldercare Abuse page through the Administration of Aging to get information on what authorities to report to. Often, it will provide phone numbers and other contact information.
- Contact the primary care physician of the patient, or the social working to provide information.
- If the abuse is life threatening, then call 911.
It is vital to act quickly for the wellbeing of the elderly nursing home resident.
Once the abuse has been reported, it would be best to hire an attorney who has experience in nursing home abuse cases. Additionally, the patient will need to be moved to a new nursing home. While this can be stressful for the resident, it is vital for their wellbeing. When choosing a new nursing home facility, it is important to pick carefully, evaluating the home before moving the elderly loved one to it for future living arrangements. It is vital to avoid a repeat case of abuse.