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What to Do If You Think a Nursing Home Resident Is Being Abused in Iowa

Report cases of neglect or abuse in an Iowa nursing home to the proper authorities right away

You have knowledge that upsets you to your core and keeps you up at night. You have reason to believe that someone in an Iowa nursing home is being abused. Whether that person is your loved one or a stranger, you need to do whatever you can to protect him before the abuse results in a serious injury or in his death.

You Need to Report the Suspected Abuse

How you report the suspected abuse will depend on how much immediate danger you believe is present and how you think the nursing home administration will respond to your concerns. You could, for example:

  • Call 911. If you believe that there is an imminent danger to any nursing home resident, then you should call 911 so that emergency personnel can come to the nursing home immediately.
     
  • Talk to the nursing home administrators. While nursing home administrators should know what is going on in their facility, there are times when they don’t know exactly what is going on. If you think that talking to the nursing home administrators will end the abuse and result in safety for the patients, then you should do so. You should make sure, however, that you document your communication efforts.
     
  • Contact the Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman. Your local long-term care ombudsman can investigate your concerns, resolve complaints, and advocate for residents’ safety.
     
  • Contact the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals (DIA). This agency can conduct on-site visits to the nursing home and determine whether the facility is in compliance with state and federal safety regulations.

Many nursing home residents cannot speak up for themselves. They may have medical conditions that prevent them from advocating for themselves, or they may be too afraid of the potential consequences. Thus, if you suspect that a resident is being abused in an Iowa nursing home, we encourage you to take at least one of the steps described above and to do what you can to help that nursing home resident, and possibly others, live with dignity and without fear.

There Are Times When You Have No Choice

Sections 235B.3(2) and 235E.2 of the Iowa Code require that people who examine, attend, counsel, or treat a dependent adult in the course of their employment and who reasonably believe the dependent adult has suffered abuse to report that abuse to the state.

The general definition of mandatory reporters of dependent adult abuse includes:

  • Nursing home staff.
  • Outreach professionals.
  • Health practitioners.
  • Social workers.
  • Psychologists.

It may also include others who based on their job meet the state definition of a mandatory reporter.

Whether or not you are a mandatory reporter, you may feel like you have a moral obligation to speak up. If you do so in good faith, then you will not face legal repercussions even if your suspicions are wrong.

Take Further Action If the Victim Is Your Loved One

If your parent or loved one is being abused or neglected in an Iowa nursing home, then you need help immediately. You need to know how to protect your loved one from further harm and how to get your loved one compensation for the harm that has already been suffered. For more tips and resources about how to protect your loved one from nursing home abuse, we invite you to call us anytime at 1-800-800-5678.

Jason F. Abraham
Managing Partner, Hupy and Abraham