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How Do I Report Nursing Home Abuse?

When your loved one lives in a nursing home, it can be excruciating to see him or her receive substandard care. In some cases, the situation becomes dire enough that you need to report the nursing home abuse to someone who can help address it. If you suspect your loved one has been injured as a result of nursing home abuse or neglect, contact Harrell & Harrell, P.A., at 904-251-1111 or 800-251-1111 right away. In the meantime, here are some of the issues to consider and reporting steps you can take.

how to report nursing home abuse

Nursing Home Neglect Versus Abuse

The National Council of Aging reports that elder abuse overall—including seniors both in and outside of nursing homes—is significant in the United States. The council’s statistics indicate that one in 10 Americans aged 60 and up have experienced elder abuse, with figures being potentially as high as five million people annually.

Unfortunately, the study also shows that only one out of every 14 cases of elder abuse is reported to authorities. This may be because cases of abuse can be difficult to identify, sometimes because loved ones can’t visit the nursing facility to check in as often as they’d like. It may also be because the patient is unable to communicate what’s happening, whether that’s due to memory issues or physical limitations.

There are numerous types of elder abuse, ranging from actual physical abuse to emotional, sexual, financial abuse, and more. Some of these types may be easier to identify than others: You may, for example, notice your parent or loved one is regularly exhibiting suspicious-looking bruises, but you may not know that when you aren’t around, your parent is being isolated.

There is a spectrum of inappropriate situations that can exist when someone lives in a nursing home, ranging from neglect to abuse. Nursing home neglect is a breach of duty that can result in patient harm; with nursing home abuse, the implication is that the person or people involved actually intend to create harm. It can be challenging for a layperson to determine where the substandard treatment rests on this spectrum.

Last year, we created an in-depth post about types of nursing home neglect and red flags that can indicate their presence. They range from unsanitary living conditions and personal hygiene concerns, to worries about the nursing home staff itself and more. No two situations are exactly alike, although they tend to fall into four broad categories: medical neglect, neglect of basic needs, personal hygiene neglect, and/or social or emotional neglect.

If the treatment of your loved one has reached the point where serious action needs to be taken, we invite you to talk to one of our expert nursing home abuse lawyers. If you want more guidance on steps you might consider first, please read on.

Reporting Nursing Home Abuse

If you’re concerned about your loved one’s care, it makes sense to first discuss those concerns with the nursing home staff. When you speak with them, be specific about details, including when something happened and where. Sometimes, with cases of neglect, you can work together with the staff and supervisors to create a plan to provide your loved one with better treatment.

If the treatment has crossed over into apparent abuse, however, this means that someone at the nursing home may actually intend harm to your loved one. In that case, if all employees at fault are not dealt with appropriately by the nursing home, with protections put into place to prevent this from ever happening again, all the talk in the world isn’t helpful.

At this point, you could contact your loved one’s primary health care physician or social worker. If the situation is an emergency—perhaps your parent was significantly injured in a fall and is not receiving proper treatment—you can call 911.

If the situation is serious but your loved one is not actively in a crisis situation, you can use the U.S. Administration on Aging’s Eldercare Locator to find information about reporting abuse. You can contact them Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST, to find out how to report nursing home abuse in your state. You can call 1-800-677-1116; after business hours, you may be provided with a phone number for an agency in your state that handles issues for older adults. If you leave a message, the site says calls will be returned the following day.

For TDD/TTY service, call your local relay service or call 711 to ask to be connected to the Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116. You can also use the Eldercare Locator’s online chat feature during business hours, or email the site at During business hours, Spanish-speaking specialists are available. Plus, interpretation services are available for 150 languages.

You can also find state-specific resources from the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) by the Administration on Aging (AoA).

Contacting Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers

There is absolutely no justification for nursing home abuse.

We advocate for the rights of nursing home patients, lobbying for reform and testifying before Congress and the Florida State Legislature about nursing home concerns. If you need to talk to an experienced nursing home lawyer, we invite you to contact Harrell & Harrell, P.A. Our leading nursing home abuse attorney, Julie Harrell, and our team have personally managed scores of nursing home accident and nursing home abuse cases, and we offer free, no-obligation consultations to help you determine the strength of your case.

For more specifics, you can find information about our nursing home advocacy and client representation as well as settlements we’ve received for clients, including an elderly client who was awarded $700,000 after suffering multiple bed sores due to lack of repositioning and improper wound care. She also endured numerous falls that led to bruising, even fractures, from a lack of supervision and restraint.

To discuss specifics of your case, contact our nursing home lawyers online today or call 904-251-1111 or 800-251-1111.