Report Nursing Home Abuse

Nursing home abuse and neglect can result in serious harm or death to older Americans. It’s key to report nursing home abuse to protect your loved ones and hold facilities accountable for their actions. Learn how you can report nursing home abuse.

Get a Free Case Review

How to Report Nursing Home Abuse

Nursing home abuse is a serious crime that can quickly worsen and even turn deadly if not stopped. There are many ways that you can report nursing home abuse, from local agencies to national organizations

If your loved one is in immediate danger or having a medical emergency, dial 911 to report nursing home abuse and get help as soon as possible.

Nursing home abuse can also be reported by:

  • Calling a nursing home abuse hotline
  • Connecting with an ombudsman (representatives for residents)
  • Contacting Adult Protective Services (APS) in your state
  • Working with doctors and other medical personnel

By reporting suspected abuse, you can open an investigation into an older person’s overall well-being while they are living in a facility. You may even be able to hold nursing facilities legally accountable if they harmed your loved one.

You deserve justice. Get a free legal case review now.

Nursing Home Abuse Reporting Options

It’s key to know about your options to report nursing home abuse so you can find the best resources that will help your loved one.

Below, find some of the most important people and groups that you can report nursing home abuse to.

Ombudsmen

A nursing home ombudsman protects the rights of nursing home patients and resolves issues concerning their health and safety. Ombudsmen serve as a middleman between long-term care facilities and residents.

All states and several U.S. territories were granted a long-term care ombudsman program under 1972’s Older Americans Act.

Ombudsmen are responsible for:

  • Addressing resident complaints of poor treatment, neglect, or abuse
  • Educating older people about their rights and available resources
  • Recommending changes based on their experiences with older Americans

You can find your state’s ombudsman through the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center. From there, your concerns and complaints can be addressed through an investigation.

Local Authorities

You can report nursing home abuse through local authorities such as the police or your state’s Adult Protective Services (APS) branch.

The police can help you take immediate action if an elder has been seriously harmed or died due to abuse.

Law enforcement can file criminal charges for:

  • Assault or homicide
  • Emotional abuse or harassment
  • Sexual or financial coercion

Call your local APS branch if you believe an older loved one might be suffering from abuse or neglect. A social worker can take note of your concerns and launch an investigation into the elder’s well-being.

To find phone numbers for local branches of the APS, visit the National Adult Protective Services Association website.

Eldercare Locator

The Eldercare Locator is a federal service sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). It connects seniors to housing, health care, and other government resources.

Learn more by calling the toll-free elder and nursing home abuse complaint hotline at 1-800-677-1116. Operators are standing by Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern time. You may also visit eldercare.acl.gov.

National Center on Elder Abuse

Established in 1988, the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) is a hub of information and resources. This advocacy group works to make it easier to spot and report nursing home abuse through education and training. It also lobbies for policy changes to improve the quality of life for elders.

Through the NCEA, you can learn how to:

  • Connect with local elder support resources
  • Identify and report nursing home abuse
  • Spread awareness about elder abuse

Report nursing home abuse today and seek swift justice. Get started by calling our team at (800) 896-7040.

Doctors and Medical Experts

It can be hard to know the difference between symptoms of normal aging and mistreatment. Problems like bruised skin, frequent falls, bedsores, and dehydration are not always evidence of neglect or abuse. This is where a medical expert’s opinion can help.

“[Doctors] are in a unique place to be able to comprehensively look at a patient. They have an opportunity to identify elder abuse and to reach out to the community or make appropriate referrals to break the cycle of violence or neglect.”

Amy Berman, Registered Nurse
John A. Hartford Foundation

Doctors can examine nursing home residents for physical and emotional signs of abuse or neglect.

Confidential Reporting

Every state has regulations so people can file confidential elder abuse reports, according to the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA). All calls to NAPSA are confidential.

Under state rules, those who report nursing home abuse will have their identities kept safe unless they agree to reveal it or a court orders them to do so. They are also protected from retaliation or legal action.

Did You Know?
Staff members are obligated both by law and internal policies at assisted living facilities to report abuse and neglect. Nursing home staff can report abuse without facing disciplinary action from their employer or legal liability.

Ignoring abuse carries serious penalties. Nursing home abuse may only worsen if left unchecked, meaning your loved one could continue to suffer.

Further, staff members and home care providers who ignore abuse may be fired, lose their medical license, or get arrested. Caregivers also can face civil lawsuits for abuse or negligence.

Reporting Nursing Home Abuse Types and Warning Signs

Although many people may think nursing home abuse is only limited to physical harm, there are many ways that older adults can suffer. Nursing home residents can also experience emotional mistreatment, neglect, and sexual abuse.

Reporting the different types of nursing home abuse can be a challenge since the signs of each may vary greatly. However, one common thread is that abuse or neglect will lead to negative changes in your loved one’s physical or emotional health.

Reporting possible signs of any type of abuse can help to stop problems before they worsen. Warning signs of nursing home abuse are listed below.

Emotional Warning Signs

  • Changes in behavior or sleep patterns
  • New onset of depression, fear, or anxiety

Physical Warning Signs

  • Broken bones
  • Bruises and welts
  • Cuts, burns, or sores

Neglect Warning Signs

  • Lack of good hygiene (soiled clothes, unclean hair)
  • Missing medical devices (hearing aids, glasses, medications)
  • Poor nutrition and dehydration

Sexual Warning Signs

  • Bruising and/or bleeding around the genitals
  • Development of STDs
  • Stained or torn clothing or bedding

Was your loved one abused or neglected? Get a free case review — compensation may be available.

Documenting Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

If you think a loved one is being harmed, note any possible signs the moment your suspicions are raised.

Keeping track of the signs of nursing home abuse can make it easier to report them later on. It can also strengthen the case if it results in a criminal case or nursing home abuse lawsuit.

To start, write down when you first noticed negative changes in your loved one and include as much detail as possible of when, where, and how the abuse occurred.

It may also be helpful to take photos as evidence if you think your loved one is suffering from neglect or physical abuse.

Next Steps to Report Nursing Home Abuse

By reporting nursing home abuse, you and your family members can begin to heal from this awful trauma. Reporting abuse also helps bring those responsible to justice and prevents them from harming others.

If you have questions or concerns about reporting nursing home abuse, connect with our team. Our Patient Advocates can assess possible cases of nursing home abuse or neglect and recommend next steps for you to take.

You can also learn if financial compensation is available to cover medical treatments and other expenses.

Get started today with a free case review.

Questions About Reporting Nursing Home Abuse

How do you investigate nursing home abuse?

You can investigate nursing home abuse by regularly checking on loved ones.

If you notice any negative changes in their appearance or behavior, take note of them in as much detail as possible. With care, ask your loved one what happened. You may also want to take pictures or videos.

Finally, you can report nursing home abuse to the proper authorities who can launch an investigation.

How do I report negligence in a nursing home?

You can report negligence in a nursing home to an ombudsman. Nursing home ombudsmen are trained to resolve complaints about poor care that leads to neglect. An ombudsman can work with you and the nursing home to address the problem.

If nursing home neglect led to severe injuries or death, report it to local authorities like the police. Remember, serious cases of abuse or neglect may be considered a crime.

How do I report a nursing home to the state?

This varies depending on the state you live in. Access the list of State Survey Agency websites and see how you can report nursing home abuse in your state.

What information is required when reporting nursing home abuse?

This depends on the factors in your case. However, it’s helpful to collect and provide as many details as possible so investigators can better understand what happened.

Learn more about what you’ll need to file a report by speaking with an ombudsman, police officer, or nursing home abuse law firm.

You deserve justice. Get a free legal case review now.

Author:Nursing Home Abuse Justice Team
Nursing Home Abuse Justice Team

Nursing Home Abuse Justice was founded to shine a light on nursing home and elder abuse. Every day, thousands of people in nursing homes and assisted living facilities are abused. Our team helps educate seniors and their loved ones on the common causes, signs and preventions of nursing home abuse. We report on real-world studies and current events from respected news outlets to expose this national problem.

Last modified: December 14, 2021

View 10 References
  1. Administration for Community Living. (n.d.) Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. Retrieved June 3, 2020 from https://acl.gov/programs/Protecting-Rights-and-Preventing-Abuse/Long-term-Care-Ombudsman-Program

  2. Butterfield, Stacey (January 2019) See, and then stop, elderly abuse. ACP Hospitalist. Retrieved June 3, 2020 from https://acphospitalist.org/archives/2019/01/see-and-then-stop-elderly-abuse.htm

  3. Department of Justice. (n.d.) Additional Charges using Elder Justice Initiative Definitions. Retrieved on June 3, 2020 from https://www.justice.gov/elderjustice/file/886971/download

  4. National Adult Protective Services Association. (n.d.) Facts About Confidentiality. Retrieved June 3, 2020 from https://www.napsa-now.org/get-help/confidentiality-safety/

  5. National Center on Elder Abuse. (n.d.) Red Flags of Abuse. Retrieved June 3, 2020 from https://ncea.acl.gov/NCEA/media/docs/Red-Flags-of-Elder-Abuse-English.pdf

  6. National Center on Elder Abuse. (n.d.) What We Do. Retrieved June 3, 2020 from https://ncea.acl.gov/What-We-Do.aspx

  7. Registered Nursing. (n.d.) What Should a Nurse Do if they Suspect a Patient is a Victim of Abuse? Retrieved June 3, 2020 from https://www.registerednursing.org/what-should-nurse-do-suspect-patient-victim-abuse/

  8. Stanford Medicine Elder Abuse. (n.d.) Documenting in the Medical Record. Retrieved June 3, 2020 from http://elderabuse.stanford.edu/reporting/documenting.html

  9. U.S. Department of Human and Health Services. (n.d.) How do I report elder abuse or abuse of an older person or senior? Retrieved June 3, 2020 from https://www.hhs.gov/answers/programs-for-families-and-children/how-do-i-report-elder-abuse/index.html

  10. National Adult Protective Services Association. (2012, September 26). Confidentiality & Safety. Retrieved March 25, 2021, from https://www.napsa-now.org/get-help/confidentiality-safety/