How To Report Nursing Home Abuse
Residents of nursing homes face many challenges to their well-being, ranging from falls and fractures to bedsores and infection. How can we keep nursing homes accountable for the care they provide? We can hold them responsible by reporting nursing home abuse or neglect to government officials.
The Ohio Department of Health handles complaints involving regulated health care facilities statewide, including ones certified by Medicare or Medicaid. Each Ohio county offers adult protective services as well.
Who to call
The fastest way to report abuse is to call a hotline:
- Ohio Department of Health: 800-342-0553
- Cuyahoga County: 216-420-6700
- Lorain County: 440-284-4465
- Lake County: 440-350-4000
You should be able to find your county’s hotline by searching for “_______ County Ohio Adult Protective Services.”
What to say
The more specific you make your complaint, the better these agencies can help. Try to gather the following information:
- Your full name, address, and phone number (they accept anonymous complaints, but can’t follow up with questions or results)
- The nursing home’s name, address, and phone number
- The names and contact information of everyone involved: victim, witnesses, and relevant staff
- A detailed narrative of your complaint, including date, time, and frequency
- Whether you believe this is an isolated event or a systemic problem
- Why you think the incident occurred
- Whether and how the facility has tried to address the situation
- Whether you have tried filing previous complaints or contacting other agencies
What to expect
When you file a complaint with the Ohio Department of Health, you’ll receive an acknowledgement letter with a tracking number. Unannounced surveyors will investigate your complaint on site—they won’t divulge your identity or the victim’s except in very limited instances as required by law. Within one to three months, ODH will send you a second letter to notify you of the outcome of the investigation. Sometimes the state investigators cannot substantiate a complaint, which doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.
Most Ohio counties will send investigators or social workers to investigate allegations of neglect or abuse. They should review care records, interview staff, and review the nursing homes policies and procedures. They’ll immediately help to reduce or eliminate the danger. Once a case is substantiated, they can provide case management, including referrals to community services, such as home support, temporary shelter, meals, medical care, and financial counseling. Social workers will recommend legal action only after all other appropriate solutions have been explored.
By reporting nursing home abuse, you aren’t just demanding accountability for wrongdoing. You may also save other people from similar experiences in the future. So if you suspect your loved one has suffered injury, abuse, or wrongful death while under care of an Ohio nursing home, please reach out to me for a free legal consultation.