Does Anonymity Help or Hurt Victims of Nursing Negligence in Nursing Homes?

writing-paperworkAnonymous complaints feel like a reasonable part of our society. Maybe you’ve left negative feedback at a favorite restaurant because you don’t want bad service the next time. Or maybe you’ve written an anonymous letter to the editor that would make you unpopular with your neighbors. But when it comes to action on elder abuse and nursing negligence, anonymity has much greater pros and cons. If you lived in a nursing home, would you feel safe filing a public complaint about the people who you depend on to keep you alive and healthy?

The state of Illinois is debating whether anonymous complaints are good for the people who give and receive long-term care. A bill before the Illinois legislature would prevent the state from accepting or investigating anonymous complaints. It’s not a theoretical issue: in fact, nearly 20 percent of last year’s nursing home care complaints in the state were filed anonymously.

Supporters of the bill say that requiring contact information will help investigators resolve cases and punish nursing homes for infractions. The bill would also cut down on false reports by exposing lying complainants to criminal sanctions. On the other hand, detractors point out that anonymous complaints can protect employees who are looking to report nursing negligence and vulnerable residents from retribution.

It’s still legal in Ohio to make anonymous complaints about nursing homes. However, the Ohio Department of Health points out the downsides. “If you remain anonymous, ODH will not be able to contact you to obtain additional information or notify you of the results of the complaint investigation.”

For an overview of your complaint options in our state, here’s how to report nursing home abuse in Ohio.

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