How to File a Nursing Home Abuse Complaint

If you suspect that an elder or loved one is suffering from nursing home abuse or that the facility is inadequately staffed or maintained, there are several steps you should take. The first is to file a complaint with the state in which you live. State health agencies are required by law to investigate complaints of nursing home abuse.

In most jurisdictions, the APS (Adult Protection Services), the Area Agency on Aging, local State Department of Health Licensing or Certification office, or the county Department of Social Services is designated as the agency to receive and investigate allegations of nursing home abuse and neglect. If the investigators find nursing home abuse or neglect, they make arrangements for services to help protect the victim.

What to Include in Your Nursing Home Complaint

A nursing home complaints does not need to be lengthy, or overly complicated. They do need, however, to include all pertinent and relevant information the investigating health agencies need to understand the situation they will be investigating.
A nursing home complaints should include your:
  • Name
  • Address
  • Telephone Number
  • Email Address
  • Relationship to the Victim

A Nursing Home Abuse Complaint Should Also Include:

  • Resident’s full legal name and any other names he/she goes by.
  • The condition or medical problems leading to the resident’s stay at the nursing home.
  • An outline of the nursing home abuse complaints that describes the circumstances and details of the problem. This should include time and dates of the offense, the name and shift of nursing home staff working at the time, and the names of staff who have spoken to you about the abuse.
  • Copies of any applicable nursing home medical records (i.e. needing to go to the emergency room or hospital). Making copies reduces the chance of the nursing home or hospital staff mysteriously “misplacing” these records.
  • A copy of the autopsy (if the complaint involves the death of an elder).

The State Takes Action

The state agent handling the nursing home abuse case is supposed to contact the individual who filed the complaint to discuss it in more detail. Many states tell you that they will contact you within a few days of receiving your complaint.
The agent is then supposed to make a surprise visit to the facility to investigate the specific nursing home abuse complaint. In the case that the alleged offense is found to be true, the state will take whatever steps they feel is appropriate.

Send a Copy to APE

Another important step when you send your nursing home abuse complaint into the state is to send a copy of the complaint to the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (NCPEA). These organizations exist in most states and can assist you in making sure the state properly investigates the nursing home abuse complaint.
Do note that the state keeps these complaints confidential for the protection of the parties involved. Therefore, if you do not send a copy to APE, it will be extremely difficult for them to help you make sure the state takes the appropriate actions.

Lawyers for Change

Alerting the state about a specific nursing home abuse complaint does not always bring you the justice that you and your loved ones deserve. Taking legal action is often the quickest and most direct route to obtaining justice for nursing home abuse or neglect. Keep an extra copy of your complaint form(s) to present to your attorney. Click for a free consultation with an experienced nursing home abuse attorney.