What To Do If You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect

If you suspect that your loved one has suffered injury due to abuse or neglect in a nursing home, you should immediately report it and seek help. The sooner you act, the sooner you can get protection for your loved one. Also, you can help to prevent other nursing home residents from suffering similar harm.

If you contact Marks & Harrison, we will guide you through the reporting process. We can also serve as a liaison between your family and the agency which investigates the suspected abuse or neglect. For instance, we can provide the agency with any information it needs, and we can keep tabs on the progress of the investigation. Above all, we can help you to take legal action and hold the perpetrators of the abuse or neglect accountable for the harm they have caused.

To learn more about reporting nursing home abuse or neglect and to discuss the specific facts in your case, call or reach us online today. We serve nursing home injury victims and their families through our 10 offices located throughout Virginia, and we never charge for initial consultations.

Who Must Report Elderly Abuse or Neglect?

Witness calling police officer.You may want to know whether Virginia law requires you to report suspected adult abuse, or the abuse of anyone age 60 or older or age 18 or older who is incapacitated. The answer depends on whether you are a “mandatory reporter,” and you observe signs of abuse or neglect while acting in your “professional capacity.” Under Virginia law, mandatory reporters are:

  • Anyone who is licensed, certified or registered by a health regulatory board
  • Mental health services providers
  • Board of Health-certified emergency medical services providers
  • Guardians or conservators of adults
  • Anyone who is employed by or contracts with a public or private agency or facility and works with adults in an administrative, supportive or direct care capacity
  • Anyone who provides full, intermittent or occasional care for compensation, including companion, chore, homemaker and personal care workers
  • Law enforcement officers.

If you fall into any one of those categories, you must report the suspected abuse or neglect to a law enforcement agency, your local Department of Social Services or Virginia Adult Protective Services. If you fail to report it, you could face a fine.

Even if you are not a “mandatory reporter,” you should still file a report if you are concerned about the suspected abuse or neglect of your father, mother or other relative in a nursing home. Unless you act in “bad faith” or with “malicious purpose,” you will face no criminal or civil liability by reporting it. In reality, family members in Virginia often need to take action because “mandatory reporters” fail to fulfill their legal reporting duty.

How Do You Report Abuse or Neglect of a Nursing Home Resident?

Old senior taking down notes.Before you report any suspected nursing home abuse or neglect, you should take a few minutes to gather and organize as much information as you can such as:

  • Your loved one’s name and age
  • The name and location of the nursing home
  • The date or time period when you suspect the misconduct occurred
  • The nature of the abuse or neglect
  • The names of any individuals whom you suspect to be the perpetrators
  • The names of any people who may corroborate your information.

Of course, if you cannot gather some or all of this information, do not let it stop you from reporting your concerns. Additionally, can you file a report orally or in writing – whichever way is most convenient for you – and you can remain anonymous.

Where Do You Report Suspected Abuse or Neglect?

911 Call center agents taking queries.To whom you report the abuse or neglect will depend on the circumstances of your case. For instance, if you believe that your loved one is the victim of a crime, or you think your loved one faces imminent danger, you should call 911 right away. If the situation is not an emergency, then you should consider reporting to:

  • Department of Social Services (DSS). You can find a listing of local offices here. The department will investigate the report and may provide certain services to help you to protect your loved one.
  • Adult Protective Services (APS). You can call this agency’s 24-hour, toll-free hotline at (888) 832-3858. Like your local DSS office, APS will investigate the reported abuse or neglect and provide any necessary services.
  • Long-Term Care Ombudsman. This statewide program investigates complaints and works with care providers, individuals and their families to resolve problems. To find your local ombudsman, you can call (804) 565-1600 or go here.
  • Department of Health Professions. This agency receives and investigates complaints about health care practitioners who may have violated a law or regulation. You can call (800) 533-1560 to file a verbal complaint or request a complaint form. Note: This agency cannot guarantee your anonymity.

How Can Our Lawyers Help with Your Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect Case?

If your loved one has suffered serious injuries due to abuse or neglect in a Virginia nursing home, or your family has suffered the tragic loss of a family member due to such mistreatment, you have the right to pursue a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. Marks & Harrison will provide the skilled and compassionate legal assistance you need as you move forward.

While an investigation of the nursing home by local or state agencies may lead to penalties against the home, a civil lawsuit can seek compensation for the specific harm that your loved one and/or family members have sustained, including medical expenses, pain, suffering and emotional distress. Our firm will explore all options available to you and take immediate action on your behalf.

For more than 100 years, Marks & Harrison has protected the rights of injury victims and their families. We know what it takes to hold nursing homes accountable – and we are ready to go to work for you. Call or reach us online today and allow us to provide a free consultation through one of our 10 offices located throughout Virginia.