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What To Do If You Think Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect Is Happening

There are actions you should take if you expect nursing home abuse or neglect has occurred

What you saw shocked you and left you uncertain about how to proceed. While you were in a nursing home visiting a resident, volunteering, or doing your job, you witnessed the neglect or abuse of a nursing home resident.

You want to take action, but you aren’t sure how to do it.

Here Are Five Important Actions You Can Take Right Now

Immediately after the incident, you can:

  • Document what happened with as many details as possible. Write down exactly what you witnessed, the room number or other location of the abuse or neglect, and the date and exact time of the incident.
     
  • Write down the names of all staff in the area and administrators on duty. They may become important witnesses later, even if they were not directly involved in the incident.
     
  • Contact a loved one of the resident—if you know how to reach him. If you have contact information for the resident’s relative or friend, then you should reach out to that person and let him know what you saw.
     
  • Talk to the resident, if possible. You do not need to say that you think you witnessed abuse or neglect, but you can ask if the resident needs anything. You may also be able to determine if the resident has any critical needs that require immediate attention.
     
  • Inform the state. It is important to report any alleged abuse or neglect so that a full investigation can be done. You will not be liable if you make your report in good faith, even if you are wrong.

You may be uncomfortable making a report of alleged abuse or neglect, but it is important to share what you’ve witnessed so that further abuse or neglect can be prevented.

You Must Take Additional Action If You Work at the Nursing Home

The Wisconsin Caregiver Law requires nursing home personnel, among others, to take specific actions if abuse, neglect, or misappropriation is suspected. Specifically, nursing home staff members are required to:

  • Immediately protect the resident from further abuse, neglect, misappropriation, or other harm.
     
  • Conduct an investigation.
     
  • Document how the investigation was conducted and the findings of the investigation.
     
  • Report the findings of the allegations to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services Division of Quality Assurance (DQA). If the allegations include wrongdoing by nursing home staff, then the report must be an official Misconduct Incident Report (F-62447).

Nursing home staff may see evidence of abuse or neglect before family members, doctors, or other visitors. Thus, these provisions are meant to provide security for nursing home residents by requiring that nursing home staff report any misconduct they see by their colleagues and other staff members.

You Can Also Take Additional Action If Your Loved One Was Hurt

Sometimes the neglect or abuse that you witness may be to the resident whom you were visiting. If your loved one has been hurt by nursing home abuse or neglect, then it is important to take further action to protect her safety. You may need to pursue legal action so that you can get your loved one the legal and financial recoveries that she deserves. For more tips and resources about protecting your loved one from the harm of nursing home abuse, please start a free, confidential, no-obligation chat with us today.

Jason F. Abraham
Managing Partner, Hupy and Abraham