How do I report nursing home abuse in Georgia?

| Jun 1, 2016 | Nursing Home Abuse |

Anyone can report nursing home abuse or neglect over the phone, online or by fax. It doesn’t take much time to file a complaint that could protect vulnerable people in Atlanta and throughout the state.

Depending on where the abuse occurred, you can contact Adult Protective Services or the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH). These agencies are responsible for processing and investigating complaints of abuse in the community and in licensed nursing facilities. Volunteers and state groups protect elderly residents and assist individuals who report abuse. They also defend the rights of disabled individuals who are over 18.

What to Include in Elder Abuse Reports

When you file a report, you will be asked to provide details about yourself and the incident. The investigating agency won’t reveal your identity, but they may contact you to request more information.

Next, you can submit details about the suspected abuse, such as the time and date of the incident, how you discovered the abuse and what you saw. Be as concise as possible, and stick to the facts. Describe exactly what you saw, such as my mother had bruises on her neck or the staff has routinely prevented me from visiting my father. If you believe that there’s a pattern of abuse or neglect, explain everything that you have seen. Once you have all of the information, follow these steps to submit a report.

Reporting Elder Abuse in your Community

To report abuse that occurred outside of a licensed nursing facility, contact Georgia Adult Protective Services. Elderly individuals who live at home are still vulnerable to abuse at the hands of family members, neighbors and caregivers. You can submit an anonymous report online or by calling 866-552-4464.

Filing a Complaint for Abuse Within a Nursing Home

The Healthcare Facility Regulation division of the DCH handles reports of abuse that occurred within licensed nursing homes and assisted living facilities. To make a report, call 800-878-6442. Current inspections for most properties are available on the DCH website.

Resident Advocates

If you would like assistance filing a claim or communicating with facility administrators, a long-term care ombudsman can assist you. Volunteer ombudsmen and community advocates have a presence in nursing homes across the state. They visit facilities to check on residents, improve the care that’s provided and resolve complaints.

Once a report is filed, the nursing home has three days to respond. Depending on the nature of the allegations, the state may open an investigation. Facilities are investigated routinely and in response to reports of abuse. Findings from current investigations are published online.

Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuits

If a complaint leads to a personal injury lawsuit, findings from the state’s investigation can be used as evidence. Depending on the type of abuse and whether it caused physical or emotional harm, the report may lead to a state investigation, a civil lawsuit or criminal charges. Nursing home employees and mandated reporters can face a misdemeanor for ignoring abuse, neglect and exploitation.

Types of Abuse

If you notice any warning signs while visiting elderly relatives, take the time to assess the situation and gather the information that you need to make a report. Some examples of nursing home abuse include bruising, isolation, depression, chemical sedation, bedsores, weight loss and poor hygiene. Many types of abuse occur in nursing homes, but most incidents fall into one of the following categories.

  • Physical abuse includes hitting, physical violence and deprivation that causes bodily harm.
  • Sexual abuse covers a wide range of explicit behavior and unwanted physical contact.
  • Emotional abuse, such as intimidation and isolation, can cause victims to become withdrawn or depressed and experience personality changes.
  • Financial exploitation occurs when an abuser illegally accesses an adult’s assets or income for personal gain.
  • Examples of neglect include deprivation of food, water, medical care and essential services.

If you have reported elder abuse and haven’t been able to reach a satisfactory solution, contact our office. We will fight to improve living conditions, have your relative moved to a more caring environment and recover compensation for your family. Corporations that operate nursing homes are financially responsible when they hire unqualified staff, fail to maintain their facilities and harm residents.