How to File a Nursing Home Neglect Complaint with the Ohio Department of Health (ODH)

When bad things happen in a nursing home, how do you know if the nursing home is responsible for the injury? Gathering all the facts is key and one way to begin that process is by filing a nursing home complaint with the Ohio Department of Health, as well as consulting with an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer. It is usually through a lawsuit that wrongdoers are held accountable.

How to File an Ohio Department of Health Nursing Home Complaint

How to Report Nursing Home Neglect in Ohio

  1. Call the Ohio Department Health Complaint Hotline (ODH) at 1-800-342-0553. The COMPLAINT LINE is covered via voicemail twenty-four hours, seven days per week during off-hours, federal holidays and in cases of heavy call traffic. The voicemail is checked minimally twice per workday, once in the AM and again in the PM for any recorded messages. Any voice mail messages with insufficient information are returned for additional information or processed through Intake with the information provided.
  2. E-mail your complaint to: HCComplaints@odh.ohio.gov.
  3. Complete the Ohio Department of Health Complaint Form (HEA 1685) and submit online to the Complaint unit.
  4. Consult with a nursing home neglect lawyer. As a nursing home abuse lawyer, I am here to help you with this process. My office can assist you with contacting the Ohio Department of Health and with completing your Complaint form.

Types of Nursing Home Neglect Eligible for Complaints to the Ohio Department of Health

  • Assault. Physical assault can come from nursing home staff, other residents, or even visitors. Every nursing home is required by law to provide a safe home. Specifically, federal regulations and the Ohio Nursing Home Residents’ Bill of Rights state that “The resident has the right to be free from verbal, sexual, physical, and mental abuse, corporal punishment, and involuntary seclusion.”
  • Pressure ulcer/bedsore. Pressure ulcers and bedsores usually happen when patients or nursing home residents lie for long periods of time in one position, like on their back. Per the CDC, the cold facts are that 1 in 10 nursing home residents will develop pressure ulcers, which require immediate medical treatment.
  • Slips and falls. Many families make the difficult decision to place a loved one in a nursing home or assisted living facility because of safety concerns due to a recent fall. All too often, nursing homes fail to take the actions necessary to prevent falls. Tragically, even seemingly minor falls can trigger a chain of events leading to a serious deterioration in a resident’s health, or even death.
  • Wandering, elopement, and escape. One of the main reasons families turn to nursing homes to care for their loved ones is safety. Elderly people with dementia or Alzheimer’s often cannot appreciate danger, so they may wander or leave the facility unsupervised and unnoticed.
  • Malnutrition or dehydration. Residents who are not getting enough calories or fluids can certainly lose weight, become confused, or become susceptible to infection. These conditions, if not recognized and treated by the nursing home staff and the resident’s doctor, can lead to life-threatening complications.
  • Choking and strangulation. In many cases, choking is the result of a nursing home failing to properly assess a resident, or in the failure to properly implement protocols (such as a liquid diet or the elimination of bed rail gaps) to prevent the resident from choking.
  • Infection. When a resident sustains a serious infection, it’s important to try to understand how the resident came to be infected. With some types of infections, it may be possible to track the course of an infection. In all cases, it should be possible to understand the policies and procedures that the nursing home may have in place to prevent or reduce infections.

This list covers only a few of types of abuse and neglect, all of which are reasons to call my office and file a complaint with the Ohio Department of Health. If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t.

What Information is Needed to File a Nurse Home Neglect Complaint

Comprehensive information needs to be provided to allow for proper processing of your complaint. Therefore, the more specific and detailed your complaint, the better. Per the Ohio Department of Health Guide to Filing a Complaint, the following information needs to be included in your complaint but is not limited to:

  • Complainant information (your full name, address, and telephone number)
    NOTE: If you wish to remain anonymous, please indicate so in your complaint. 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.
  • Facility name, address and telephone number
  • Individuals involved and affected, witnesses and accusers (names, room number and title if known)
  • Narrative/specifics of your complaint
  • Date/time/frequency of incident
  • Do you believe this in an isolated event or a systemic problem?
  • Why you believe the incident occurred
  • Has the facility tried to address the situation?
  • Whether or not you initiated other courses of action, including contacting other agencies, response/resolution obtained if any

The above list may seem overwhelming, but a nursing home neglect lawyer can help compile the information needed for your complaint.

When to File a Nursing Home Neglect Complaint

When you suspect that your loved one is not receiving the proper care or, worst case, has been injured or has died and you believe it’s the nursing home’s fault, you need to act quickly. A quick response to nursing home neglect or abuse helps preserve as many facts and as much evidence as possible. Per the Ohio Department of Health Guide to Filing a Complaint, the ODH generally will not investigate matters that happened over a year ago. Keep in mind though, even a year is much too long to wait. In addition to ODH rules and regulations there are statutory time frames in place that limit the time you have to file a lawsuit against the responsible facility.

What Types of Facilities Can I File a Complaint About?

ODH has jurisdiction to investigate Medicare and/or Medicaid health care facilities and providers and/or suppliers who are certified by ODH or Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and any other facilities or agencies licensed by ODH. These providers/suppliers are:

  • Ambulatory Surgical Centers
  • Clinical Laboratory
  • Comprehensive Outpatient Rehab Facility (CORF)
  • End Stage Renal Dialysis
  • Intermediate Care Facility for Individuals with Intellectual Disability (ICF/IID)
  • Home Health Agency
  • Hospice
  • Hospital
  • Residential Care Facility
  • Skilled Nursing Facility

Why is it Important to File a Nursing Home Neglect Complaint with the ODH?

Though it may seem like abuse and neglect is obvious, facts must be gathered, evidence and witnesses identified, and records reviewed in order to make the strongest case to hold wrongdoers responsible. There are many cases when the ODH findings are an integral piece of the puzzle. In addition to the case specific report generated for a complaint, annual surveys and the past three years of complaint history are available for facilities through the CMS. This history of past poor performance may be another important part of the investigation.

In addition, the Complaint Surveys help the CMS identify and share information as to poorly performing and downright dangerous facilities. They designate these poorly performing facilities as “Special Focus Facilities.”

Why Should I Call a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer?

As an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer who also was a practicing nurse, I’m here with you from the beginning. My firm is small by design and it’s my name on the door. That means I’m selective about the cases I take so that I can personally work all aspects: handling your lawsuit, interviewing witnesses, researching legal and medical issues, and engaging experts.

When you hire me, it’s the beginning of a partnership. Your case will not be handed off to junior attorneys or staff. Instead, I will be handing all facets of your case. Your case is extremely personal. So is my work for you.

In the end, I believe that law is the great equalizer. It’s what allows individuals like you and me to stand on equal footing against professionals and corporations and their teams of lawyers. Together we can challenge them and hold them accountable for the harm that they cause.

If carelessness has harmed your family through personal injury, wrongful death, or elder mistreatment, please reach out to the Nancy C. Iler Law Firm for a free consultation.