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How To File A Nursing Home Complaint In Indiana
Ask An Expert: How Do I File A Nursing Home Complaint in Indiana?
We are often asked how one should go about filing a complaint against an Indiana nursing home for suspected abuse, neglect, or otherwise substandard or inadequate care. Here is what you need to know:
In Indiana, complaints involving the failure by nursing homes to provide safe, clean and adequate care can be filed with the Indiana State Department of Health (“ISDH”). The ISDH is the state agency responsible for ensuring that nursing homes comply with healthcare rules and regulations. The complaint process is critical in terms of alerting the ISDH to matters which need investigation in a timely manner. As we discussed in a recent article, the prevalence of nursing home neglect and abuse has been reported to occur at alarming levels.
Who can file a nursing home complaint?
A common misconception is that only a patient or the family member of a patient can file a complaint. This is not true. Anyone with concerns about the care of a nursing home patient may file a complaint with the ISDH, including the not only the patient herself/himself and family members, but also guardians or other patient representatives, persons who are simply visiting the nursing home, someone who has heard from another that a nursing home is providing substandard or dangerous care, and the nursing home facility staff, for example.
Can the complaint be filed anonymously?
Yes. First, the complainant’s name and any specific medical information provided in the complaint is always to be kept confidential. The ISDH will investigate the complaint without disclosing the complainants name if given. Importantly, however, if you wish to file the complaint without giving your name, you can do so and the ISDH will still investigate the complaint.
How is the complaint filed?
There are several ways in which you can easily file a complaint with the ISDH.
First, you can call their toll-free complaint hotline using this number: Complaint Hotline: 1-800-246-8909
This number is typically answered during normal business hours.
You can also call and leave your complaint on voicemail by calling this number: Complaint report line voicemail: (317) 233-7241
If you want to file your complaint after hours, you have several other options as well.
You can also email your written complaint to the ISDH by sending it to this email address: email@example.com.
You can also fax your nursing home complaint to the ISDH by faxing it to this number: (317) 233-7494.
Finally, if you would prefer to mail your complaint, you can do so by sending your written complaint to:
Indiana State Department of Health
Health Care Facility Complaint Program
2 North Meridian Street, 4B
Indianapolis, IN 46204
If you file a written complaint, you can use the Complaint Report Form provided by the ISDH. You can find that form here and it is located at this web address:
This complaint form is not required, but it can serve as a tool to assist you in identifying information helpful to the investigator in evaluating the care issue. You may simply send an email, fax or letter that includes all the pertinent information. If you call the Toll-free Complaint Line, the intake specialist taking your call will likely ask similar questions.
If you need to file a complaint against a nursing home in another state, you can find the appropriate State Survey Agency with contact information here:
How quickly must I file the complaint?
There is no deadline or specific timeframe in which you must file a complaint with the ISDH. (Note: there are deadlines for filing a civil lawsuit, however. Talk to a lawyer to determine those important deadlines if you are considering a lawsuit.) When filing a nursing home complaint with the ISDH, you should try to file your complaint as soon as possible following the initial occurrence of a problem because the ISDH can more effectively gather information surrounding an incident that occurred more recently versus incidents that occurred a long time ago.
What information should I provide?
Sometimes, it is important to make the complaint quickly and you will not have much time to prepare and the ISDH will understand. However, if you have a little time to prepare prior to contacting the ISDH, it’s can be helpful to prepare a summary of events related to the problem. Provide investigators with as many details as possible to ensure that they can effectively investigate your complaint.
The following list reflects the types of questions that the investigator may ask during the complaint intake process. Although it’s not mandatory to provide all the information listed below, the more you can provide the better.
- Your Contact Information (if you are willing to provide this information). Include complete contact information so that the investigator can contact you for additional information and provide you with survey results.
- Facility Name & Location
- Dates of Incident(s) (if a specific date is applicable) If there is no specific date, include time period information (e.g., weekdays, weekends, within the last week, within the last month, etc.).
- Time of Day (or shift) during which the problem was observed or was most prevalent (e.g., 7 a.m., day shift, evening shift, night shift, etc.).
- Individuals/Caregivers Involved. List individuals (or departments) involved in the concern you’re reporting (e.g., nursing staff, certified nurse aides, dietary staff, etc.) and how each individual was involved.
- Specifics of the Concern. Be as specific as possible — this greatly increases the likelihood that the problem will be discovered and confirmed by surveyors. Example: If you’re dissatisfied with meal service, describe the aspect you are dissatisfied with (e.g., food temperature, presentation, taste, wrong diet, etc.). If you think the facility is unsanitary, specifically identify what conditions make it unsanitary (e.g., dust, debris, soiled floors, etc.).
Is there any cost to filing a complaint?
Can I file a complaint even if the patient involved is no longer at the facility?
Yes. The ISDH will still investigate the matter by interviewing witnesses, reviewing the pertinent facility records, etc.
If you need assistance with filing a nursing home complaint, you can call our office at 877-769-5377.
Jeff Powless is an attorney and the author of the 2017 book, Abuses and Excuses: How To Hold Bad Nursing Homes Accountable. Abuses and Excuses breaks new ground in helping patients and families hold bad nursing homes accountable, sharing a wealth of insider strategies and insights. It’s an eye opening account of corporate greed, acts of neglect and abuse, an insidious industry culture of cover-up, and the actual harm that inevitably befalls vulnerable nursing home patients all across the country with shocking frequency.
The Powless Law Firm is an Indiana law firm that represents victims and families state-wide in serious cases involving nursing home neglect, medical negligence, personal injury and wrongful death. If you have concerns about nursing home neglect or abuse, please contact us at 877-769-5377.
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To learn more about how patients, families, and healthcare providers can hold nursing homes accountable, read “Abuses and Excuses: How To Hold Bad Nursing Homes Accountable.” This valuable resource can be found on sale at here at Amazon.com.