Report Nursing Home Abuse

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

Get a Free Case Review

Nursing Home Abuse Reporting Options

Nursing home abuse is a serious crime that can quickly worsen and even turn deadly if not stopped. There are many avenues through which you can report nursing home abuse. These include local, state, and national agencies.

If your loved one is in immediate danger or having a medical emergency, dial 911 to report nursing home abuse.

Nursing home abuse can also be reported by:

  • Calling a nursing home abuse hotline
  • Connecting with a long-term care ombudsman
  • Contacting your state’s adult protective services (APS)
  • Working with doctors and other medical personnel

By reporting suspected abuse, you can open an investigation into an older person’s well-being. 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 Types and Warning Signs

Nursing home abuse often brings physical harm to mind. That said, the definition is much broader. There are many types of nursing home abuse.

Along with physical harm, nursing home abuse can include:

  • Emotional abuseThis includes mental anguish caused by insults or threats
  • Financial abuseStealing a nursing home resident’s money through scams
  • NeglectA lack of care for a nursing home patient’s safety or health care needs
  • Sexual abuseTaking advantage of an older person sexually through coercion, force, or abusing their inability to provide consent

Examples of physical and emotional signs of nursing home abuse are listed in the lists below.

Physical Warning Signs
  • Broken bones, bruises, and welts
  • Cuts, burns, and sores
  • Missing medical devices such as hearing aids, glasses, and medications
  • Poor nutrition and dehydration
Emotional Warning Signs
  • Changes in behavior or sleep
  • Depression
  • Fear or anxiety
  • Unresponsiveness

Have you noticed signs of nursing home abuse? Contact us today by calling (800) 896-7040.

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. Noting the signs of nursing home abuse can make the reporting process easier 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 (including dates and times).

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

How To Report Nursing Home Abuse

Once you have noted possible signs of nursing home abuse, you can report them to the proper authorities. Below, learn more about the options to report nursing home abuse and which ones may best fit for your situation.

Ombudsmen

An ombudsman serves as a middleman between long-term care facilities and residents. They protect the rights of nursing home patients and resolve issues concerning their health and safety.

All states and several 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 in laws and rules based on their daily 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

Local authorities such as the police or your state’s Adult Protective Services (APS) branch, are both great options to report nursing home abuse.

The police can help you take immediate action if an elder has been seriously harmed — or if their life is in danger — due to abuse.

Law enforcement may be able to file criminal charges for:

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

If you think an older loved one might be suffering from abuse or neglect, you can call your APS branch. A social worker can note the details of the case and reach out to the elder if needed.

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 United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). It connects seniors to local resources such as housing, health care, and other government programs.

Learn more by calling the toll-free elder and nursing home abuse 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 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

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, 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 and nurses can examine patients for physical signs of abuse. They may also notice emotional changes or spot signs of financial abuse in some cases.

Confidential Reporting

Every state has regulations so people can file confidential elder abuse reports, according to the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA). Anonymous reporting of nursing home abuse is also available in select states.

Under state rules, those who report abuse will have their identities kept safe unless they consent 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 who ignore abuse may be fired, lose their medical license, or get arrested. Health care workers also can face civil lawsuits for abuse or negligence.

Find out what steps you can take if you or a loved one experienced nursing home abuse. Call (800) 896-7040.

Next Steps To Report Nursing Home Abuse

By reporting nursing home abuse, you and your family members can begin to heal from the harm brought to you. 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 in on residents you love.

If you notice any negative changes in their physical appearance, mood, or finances, take note of them in as much detail as possible. With care, ask your loved one what happened if they are able to communicate. You may also want to take pictures or videos if relevant.

Finally, you can report your findings to the proper authorities who can launch a formal 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, you may also want to report it to local authorities like the police. Remember, an extreme case 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. Every state has a State Survey Agency that accepts complaints. Many of these agencies have their own websites where complaints can be filed. Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico also have websites where people can report nursing home abuse.

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 specific factors in your case, however, it’s typically helpful to collect and provide as much information as possible. This allows investigators to 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: April 23, 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 abuse 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/