Reporting Elder Abuse
Physical abuse and mental abuse are violations of any person’s rights, but they’re especially devastating to senior citizens. Elder physical abuse can even be potentially life-threatening if left unreported.
Oftentimes, family members or others who suspect a vulnerable person is being abused or neglected do not know where to turn or how to report the abuse or neglect. Clearly if a person is in immediate danger, the first call should be to a local police department by calling 911. However, for less immediate issues, there are other procedures in place for reporting abuse.
Steps to Take
When you suspect a family member has been experiencing abuse or neglect in a nursing home, you should take several steps. First ensure that the resident gets the medical attention they may need. This may require an immediate transfer to a local hospital. Be sure to notify the director of nursing and the administrator of the facility. At the same time, report the incident to the Ohio Department of Health for an independent investigation. In Ohio, several agencies can help you when you suspect abuse or neglect:
- Regional Long-Term Care Ombudsman program: There are several regional offices across Ohio whose sole responsibility is to safeguard and advocate for consumers.
- ODH’s Division of Quality Assurance: This agency is specifically set up to regulate, license, and protect those who are living in long-term care facilities. You can access your local division by inputting specific address information.
- Other Contacts: Depending on which county you live in, there are other reporting mechanisms in place to ensure that all incidents or suspicions of abuse are reported to the proper agency.
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
What You Can Expect
When you report incidents of abuse or suspected abuse, there will be an investigation launched into your suspicions. Remember, even if you suspect abuse and report it, no action will be taken unless there is actual proof that abuse or neglect has taken place. It’s better to err on the side of safety if you are unsure.
Once an investigation is underway by various state agencies, including the Ohio Department of Health and law enforcement, everything will be investigated. Should the investigation turn up evidence of abuse, victims of abuse may be assigned a case worker who can ensure their ongoing safety and care. It is important to note that seniors who are still making their own decisions about their care can refuse such intervention.
When to Consider a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
Any time you believe your loved one has been a victim of abuse, neglect, or exploitation, working with a nursing home abuse attorney is a good idea. You desire to know the truth of what happened and cannot rely on the nursing home. You can bet that the nursing home has called its own lawyers and risk managers.
Nursing home abuse is far too common, and although we may not be able to stop every single incident of abuse or neglect, reporting your suspicions to the proper authorities can help protect your loved one as well as the loved ones of others who may find themselves in the same position. Never hesitate to report an incident or suspicion.