Reporting Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect in Indiana
When our elderly loved ones reside in nursing homes, we trust that they will receive the care and support they need. However, instances of nursing home abuse and neglect do occur, too often subjecting the patient to serious harm and in some instances even death. It is essential to recognize and report such incidents promptly to protect their rights and ensure their safety. In this article, we will walk you through how you can report nursing home abuse or neglect in Indiana. By taking action, you can help address these serious concerns, hold those responsible, and assist in safeguarding the well-being of nursing home residents.
Understanding the Types of Abuse and Neglect
Before diving into the reporting process, we will discuss various types of abuse and neglect that can occur in nursing homes:
Physical Abuse: This type of abuse often involves an intentional physical action, such as hitting, kicking, pushing, or the inappropriate use of restraints, causing pain, injury, or impairment. Physical abuse can also include the intentional withholding of an action that causes the patient harm or injury, such as refusing to assist a patient who is in need.
Emotional or Psychological Abuse: Emotional abuse refers to actions that inflict emotional or psychological distress upon a resident. This may include intimidation, humiliation, threats, or isolation through verbal assaults, harassment, or manipulation of emotions, and the like.
Sexual Abuse: Sexual abuse encompasses any non-consensual sexual activity imposed upon a nursing home resident. It includes unwanted touching, sexual assault, coerced nudity, or any form of sexual exploitation.
Neglect: Neglect occurs when a nursing home fails to provide adequate care, attention, or necessary services to its residents. It can involve inadequate supervision, insufficient nutrition, failure to assist with personal hygiene, the failure to turn and reposition a patient who needs help, medical neglect and so on.
Financial Exploitation: Financial exploitation involves the unauthorized or improper use of a resident’s funds, assets, or property. Examples include theft, fraud, forgery, or coercing a resident to provide financial benefits.
Learn more about: Recognizing signs of nursing home neglect and abuse.
Gathering Evidence and Documenting the Neglect or Abuse
Documenting and gathering evidence of nursing home neglect or abuse is crucial to support your claims and ensure a thorough investigation. Start by documenting the details of each incident, including dates, times, locations, and a comprehensive description of what you observed or suspect. Take photographs or videos whenever possible to visually capture any visible signs of abuse or neglect. If you notice injuries, be sure to note their location, size, and any accompanying symptoms. Additionally, maintain a record of any conversations or interactions related to the incidents, including names, dates, and details of the individuals involved. Collect any relevant documents, such as medical records, incident reports, or financial statements. Remember, the more detailed and comprehensive your documentation and evidence, the stronger your case will be when reporting and seeking resolution. Make sure you keep a copy of all evidence and documentation. Learn more about gathering evidence of nursing home neglect and abuse.
Reporting Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect
If you suspect or witness any form of abuse or neglect in an Indiana nursing home, it is crucial to take immediate action. You can report neglect or abuse in several ways, including any or all of the following:
Report It To The Facility
When reporting nursing home abuse or neglect, it may seem most convenient to first report it to the facility’s administration or management. However, in cases where significant harm or a risk to the resident’s safety is involved, it is advisable to consider reporting it to other authorities first. By reporting to external entities such as an ombudsman, the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH), or local law enforcement, you ensure that an independent investigation can take place. This approach prevents the nursing home from potentially hiding or tampering with evidence and allows for a more impartial assessment of the situation. It is important to prioritize the well-being of the resident and take the necessary steps to ensure their safety and the accountability of the nursing home.
Report It To The Ombudsman
The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program plays a critical role in advocating for the rights and well-being of nursing home residents. Ombudsmen are trained professionals who act as independent advocates, working to resolve complaints and concerns related to long-term care facilities. If you suspect or witness nursing home neglect or abuse, you can report it to the Long-Term Care Ombudsman assigned to the specific nursing home in question. The National Long Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center (NORC) maintains an up-to-date directory of state and local ombudsman programs that can help you locate an ombudsman close to your facility. You can reach NORC at: https://ltcombudsman.org/. Contact the Indiana State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program to obtain the ombudsman’s contact information. You can find an Indiana nursing home ombudsman here. Provide them with a detailed account of the abuse or neglect, including dates, times, names of individuals involved, and any supporting documentation. The ombudsman will then work diligently to address the reported concerns, protect the resident’s rights, and ensure that appropriate actions are taken by the nursing home. Learn more about how a long-term care ombudsman can help you.
Report It To The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH)
The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) plays a crucial role in overseeing the licensing, regulation, and monitoring of nursing homes in the state. Reporting nursing home abuse or neglect to the ISDH is an important step in both finding accountability and ensuring the well-being and safety of residents. The ISDH’s Division of Long Term Care is responsible for investigating complaints and taking appropriate action to address any violations or issues within nursing homes. Learn more about when you should report nursing home abuse to the ISDH.
To report nursing home abuse or neglect to the ISDH, gather all relevant information regarding the incidents, including dates, times, locations, and specific details. Contact the ISDH’s Division of Long Term Care through one of the following methods:
Phone: Call the ISDH at 1-800-246-8909 to file a complaint. You will be connected to a representative who can guide you through the process.
Online form: To submit a complaint using the online complaint form, go to Online Complaint Submission form.
Mail: Write a formal complaint letter and mail it to the following address:
Indiana State Department of Health Division of Long Term Care
2 North Meridian Street, 4B
Indianapolis, IN 46204
When reporting to the ISDH, be sure to include the name and address of the nursing home, the resident’s name, and a comprehensive description of the incidents. The more detailed and specific the information, the better equipped the ISDH will be to investigate the matter effectively.
Upon receiving a report, the ISDH’s Division of Long Term Care will review the information provided. They will assess the severity of the allegations and initiate an investigation. The investigation may involve various steps, such as conducting on-site visits to the nursing home, interviewing staff and residents, reviewing medical records, and gathering additional evidence as necessary.
Once the investigation is complete, the ISDH will take appropriate action based on their findings. This can include issuing citations, imposing fines, requiring the implementation of corrective measures, or even revoking a nursing home’s license if deemed necessary to protect residents’ safety and well-being.
By reporting incidents to the ISDH, you contribute to the overall efforts of ensuring the quality of care and safety for nursing home residents across Indiana.
Report It To Local Law Enforcement
In cases of serious nursing home abuse or neglect where there is an immediate danger to a resident’s safety or criminal activity involved, it is important to report the incident to local law enforcement or emergency services. If you find yourself in such an emergent situation, dial 911 to seek immediate assistance. When contacting the police or law enforcement, provide them with all relevant details, including dates, times, locations, names of individuals involved, and any evidence you have gathered. Cooperate fully with their investigation, and be prepared to provide any additional information or evidence they may request. The local police department or sheriff’s office in the jurisdiction where the nursing home is located will handle the case, ensuring a thorough investigation and appropriate legal action, if warranted.
Contact An Attorney
In situations involving nursing home abuse or neglect, it is often advisable to also promptly contact a qualified nursing home neglect/abuse lawyer to ensure the protection of your legal rights. It is important to seek a lawyer with specialized knowledge and expertise in navigating the complex legal landscape surrounding nursing home neglect and abuse cases. They can help you report the matter to the proper authorities, assess the case facts, gather necessary evidence, and work diligently to help you hold responsible parties accountable for their actions. It is important to note that there are likely deadlines for taking legal action, so it is essential not to delay in contacting an attorney to ensure that you don’t miss any crucial filing deadlines. Acting swiftly will help you protect your rights and maximize your chances of obtaining the justice and compensation you deserve. Learn more about how to find a nursing home neglect/abuse lawyer.
Reporting nursing home abuse or neglect is crucial for protecting the rights and safety of vulnerable residents. By taking action and following the steps outlined above, you can play an active role in preventing further harm, and holding wrongdoers accountable for their role in nursing home neglect and abuse. Your actions can make a significant difference in the lives of nursing home residents.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
Q1: Can I report nursing home abuse or neglect anonymously?
A1: Yes, you have the option to report anonymously. However, providing your identity may assist authorities in gathering additional information and strengthening their investigation.
Q2: How can I contact the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) to report abuse or neglect?
A2: You can file a complaint with the ISDH’s Division of Long Term Care by calling 1-800-246-8909 or using the online complaint form: Online Complaint Submission form.
You can also mail your complaint to the following address: Indiana State Department of Health Division of Long Term Care, 2 North Meridian Street 4B ,Indianapolis, IN 46204.
Q3: What role does an ombudsman play in addressing nursing home abuse or neglect?
A3: A Long-Term Care Ombudsman serves as an advocate for nursing home residents. They can provide support, guidance, and assistance in resolving issues related to abuse or neglect. They work to protect residents’ rights and ensure appropriate actions are taken to address the reported concerns.
Q4: What if I suspect abuse or neglect but I’m not sure if it’s happening?
A4: If you have any concerns or suspicions about abuse or neglect in a nursing home, it is essential to report them. The appropriate authorities can investigate and determine the validity of your suspicions. It is better to err on the side of caution and report any potential issues to ensure the safety and well-being of the residents.
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.