Who to Contact if You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home abuse is a tragic problem in California and other areas of the nation. As a nursing home abuse attorney, I have personally helped countless victims of nursing home abuse, and have seen firsthand the tragic consequences that such abuse can have on a life.
Nursing home abuse is not always evident. While some types of abuse - like the use of restraints or assaulting a resident - will likely leave obvious marks, other types of abuse and neglect - like emotional abuse or denying a resident food or care - are less obvious. As a family member of an individual residing within a nursing home, you can start by familiarizing yourself with all of the signs of abuse and knowing what to look for.
If you are a family member of a loved one who is residing within a nursing home, and you suspect that your loved one may be the victim of nursing home abuse, below is some information about who to contact and what to do next.Contact a Nursing Home Supervisor or Manager
Typically, unless the abuse is life threatening or you believe that your loved one is at imminent risk for harm (in which case you should call the police), the first person to contact is the supervisor or manager of a nursing home. You should voice your concerns to the nursing home supervisor, and be specific in your complaint. For example, if you noticed bruises on your loved one, document when you noticed the bruises and when they occurred, and share precise information. The nursing home supervisor/manager should address your concerns and investigate them. If the problem is not immediately resolved - or if your loved one has suffered harm to the point where more intensive action is necessary - you should take further action.Call the Police
As mentioned above, if you believe that your loved one is at risk of imminent bodily harm or death, you should not hesitate to contact the police and report the abuse suspicions. Elderly people are particularly frail, and are not nearly as resilient as are younger, healthier people. Taking action to contact the police if you believe there is a risk of harm could save your loved one’s life.File a Complaint and Notify the Proper Agencies
If nursing home abuse is occurring or suspected, it is important that the abuse is reported to an agency that can investigate the problem and, if necessary, take action to remedy it. In California, you can report nursing home abuse or neglect to the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform - Licensing and Certification District Offices. Any person or organization has the right to file a complaint, and can do so orally or in writing. According to California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform’s website, the complaint should include the following information:
- Name and address of the nursing home facility where abuse is suspected;
- Your relationship with the nursing home resident in question, as well as your name and address;
- Name of the resident on whose behalf you are filing the complaint;
- Specific details of incidents of neglect or abuse, including dates and times;
- Names of any persons who may have witnessed the abuse;
- A list of any important documents or records that should be examined; and
- The names of any staff members involved in the abuse or neglect.
In addition to the above organization, you should also contact your local ombudsman program. You can find the full list of ombudsman programs in California on the website of the California Department of Aging.
You should also report the abuse to the Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud & Elder Abuse, or BMFEA. There are three ways to file a complaint with BMFEA:
- Send a written complaint to the California Department of Justice - Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud & Elder Abuse, O. Box 944255, Sacramento, CA 94244.
- Send a complaint by email using the online form found
- Call the BMFEA hotline directly. You can reach the hotline toll free at 800-722-0432.
Finally, you should also report the abuse to your California senator or assembly member. This is important for ensuring that people are protected in the future and that complaints filed with other departments are handled properly.Contact a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
It is important that you take action quickly to ensure that abuse is reported and, if it is indeed occurring, is put to a stop immediately. If you are having trouble filing a complaint, if you believe that a proper investigation has not been orchestrated, or if you disagree with the California Department of Public Health’s finding at the conclusion of an investigation, you need an attorney. An attorney is also instrumental if you or your loved one would like to pursue damages for losses experienced as a direct result of nursing home abuse.
At the Law Offices of Edward A. Smith, I can confidently assure you that I, along with my team of legal professionals, am ready to work hard for you. I understand the laws surrounding nursing home abuse and malpractice, and can help you to stand up for your rights - or the rights of a loved one - and hold a nursing home liable for the harm they have caused.
If you suspect nursing home abuse of your loved one, please do not hesitate to take action. Begin by speaking with nursing home managers about the problem to try and resolve the issue through open dialogue. If that fails, do not think twice about reporting nursing home abuse to the proper agencies listed above, and calling the police if your loved one is at risk of harm.
If you need help reporting nursing home abuse, or know that nursing home abuse exists and want to file a lawsuit against the nursing home to raise awareness and seek damages, I can help. Please contact my Sacramento law offices today for a free case consultation. I will fight for your rights!Sacramento Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers