How to Report Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse

When family members suspect a loved one is being neglected or abused in a nursing home, they may be unsure what to do. Depending on the nature of the problem, families have several options for filing a complaint against a long-term care facility or healthcare worker, and if they believe a resident is in imminent danger, they should call 9-1-1.

It’s not just families who should report suspected cases of abuse and neglect. Tennessee law 71-6-103 requires workers in any facility providing adult care to report abuse and neglect. If the facility has a procedure for reporting abuse and neglect internally, following that procedure fulfills a worker’s legal obligation. It’s then the duty of the facility itself to contact the appropriate authorities to report the abuse or neglect.

Long-term care facilities house elderly residents, along with younger people who may be incapacitated and have round-the-clock medical needs. All residents may be at a heightened risk of illness and injury and unable to defend themselves against violence and theft. Families play an important role in keeping their loved ones safe – when they visit frequently, they will be better able to notice any changes that could indicate a problem exists.

If you suspect a family member is being abused or neglected in a nursing home, call us today at 1-931-962-1044.

Agencies to Call

Tennessee has several state agencies, and some non-governmental groups, that can assist families who have concerns or complaints about nursing home abuse and neglect:

Adult Protective Services – 1-888-277-8366

This state agency investigates claims of physical abuse, exploitation, psychological abuse, and cases in which a nursing home resident may be in immediate danger.

Department of Health Division of Health Care Facilities – 1-877-287-0010

This department reviews complaints about unsanitary conditions, neglect, safety, and abuse, either against a specific facility or against a health care worker within that facility. To request a worker-specific complaint form, families may call -800-852-2187 or download Form PH-3466. (Note: The resident must be able to sign the form for an investigation to begin. If that’s not possible, an authorized legal representative or person holding power of attorney may sign on behalf of the resident).

Division of Consumer Affairs – 1-800-342-8385

This state division oversees complaints regarding healthcare billing and forms of financial abuse, such as misappropriation of a resident’s personal account funds.

Family Justice Centers – Multiple Locations

Non-profit Family Justice Centers partner with community groups and agencies that include police, fire, and health departments; social service agencies; hospitals; schools, and other charitable organizations. Intended to help victims of violence find safe housing, support, and advice, these centers may provide valuable input for families seeking to move a loved one from an unsafe situation in a nursing home.

The Nashville center is expected to open in early 2017, and the other centers are in:

  • Chattanooga – 1-423-755-2700 (24-hour crisis hotline); 1-423-643-7600 (executive director)
  • Cookeville – 1-800-707-5197 (Genesis House 24-hour crisis hotline); 1-931-528-1512 (general)
  • Knoxville – 1-865-521-6336 (24-hour crisis hotline); 1-865-215-6800 (office)
  • Memphis – 1-901-222-4400 (24-hour crisis hotline and all other calls)

State Long-Term Care Ombudsman – 1-877-236-0013

Tennessee’s long-term care ombudsman investigates allegations of nursing home abuse and neglect and may provide some mediation support when families have disputes with nursing homes. The state also has nine district ombudsman offices, serving the counties within and immediately surrounding their regions:

  • First Tennessee (Region 1), Johnson City – 1-423-794-2488
  • East Tennessee (Region 2), Knoxville – 1-865-691-2551 ext. 4223
  • Southeast Tennessee (Region 3), Chattanooga – 1-423-755-2877
  • Upper Cumberland (Region 4), Cookeville – 1-931-432-4210
  • Greater Nashville (Region 5), Nashville – 1-615-850-3918
  • South Central (Region 6), Mt. Pleasant – 1-931-379-2940
  • Northwest (Region 7), Martin – 1-731-587-4213 ext. 239
  • Southwest (Region 8), Jackson – 1-731-668-6411
  • Aging Commission of the Mid-South (Region 9), Memphis – 1-901-529-4565

Discovering Abuse

Some forms of abuse and neglect aren’t immediately evident, especially when residents are afraid to report mistreatment. According to the AARP, an increasing number of violent assaults in nursing homes are perpetrated by other residents, and staff may be unaware when such an incident has occurred.

If residents seem to be anxious around their roommate, or less talkative when the roommate is present, that might be a sign the roommate is intimidating or abusing your loved one. Nursing homes should be adequately staffed to increase the likelihood that they will be aware of altercations between residents.

Financial abuse is also occurring with more frequency in recent years. Signs of financial abuse may include seriously delinquent bills for healthcare, a missing checkbook or credit card, personal checks made out to “cash,” and an erratic or unusual use of a personal allowance account. In one case of financial abuse, the family of a man in a nursing home noticed he was no longer receiving mail at his house, and when they looked into it, the family discovered a Goodlettesville nursing home tech had opened several credit card accounts using the resident’s name, spending more than $2,500.

Getting Legal Help

When a nursing home resident suffers an illness or injury due to abuse or neglect, the family needs someone on their side to pursue justice. John R. Colvin has helped plenty of personal injury victims in Tennessee get the compensation they deserve for their pain and suffering. Don’t wait to ask for help. Fill out our online form, or call us today to request your free consultation: 1-931-962-1044.

Licensed to Practice in Tennessee & Alabama