Nursing Home Abuse: What Should You Do If You Suspect Neglect?
If you suspect that your loved one is the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, there are many steps you can take to help resolve the issue even before contacting an attorney. The litigation process is not always the most effective way to deal with these issues. Sometimes, a more informal grievance process is a better suited course of action.
Legal action really should be the last recourse against abusive Tennessee nursing homes. Instead, you should try to help prevent the conduct from occurring in the first place. There are several steps you can take to help protect your loved ones.How to Reduce Nursing Home Abuse
Often times abuse and neglect take place because the nursing home staff isn’t held accountable for their actions. Employees feel they can cut corners without anyone noticing. One way to prevent this is to make unannounced visits to your loved one at the nursing home. Frequent visits will force the nursing home staff to be more alert and do their jobs the right way or else face the consequences of cutting corners.
Another way to protect your loved one from abuse or neglect is to plan visits on different days of the week and during different shifts over the course of a day. Make sure you have an understanding of the level of care your loved one will be receiving during the mornings, evenings, weekends, etc. You may find that the staff operates differently at different times.
Finally, you can speak directly with the nursing home staff. The staff knows the most about the care your loved one is receiving and can be a great source of information. Don’t be worried about potentially approaching the responsible party. Your comments might fix the problem altogether, or you might even find someone willing to speak out against the nursing home’s practices.Notify Tennessee Authorities
Tennessee’s branch of the United States Department of Health is responsible for regulating the state’s nursing homes. However, it is the Tennessee Board of Nursing Home Administrators that actually investigates complaints, issues citations, and imposes fines. If you suspect that your loved one has been abused or neglected by a Tennessee nursing home, you should contact the Tennessee Board of Nursing Home Administrators.
There are several other state agencies that may be able to offer you some assistance, many of which will take your calls twenty-four hours a day. Some important numbers to know include:
- Tennessee Adult Protective Services: (888) APS-TENN
- Nashville Adult Protective Services: (615) 532-3492
- Knoxville Adult Protective Services: (865) 594-5685
- Chattanooga Adult Protective Services (423) 634-6624
- TN Dept. of Health: (800) 778-4504
- TN Ombudsman: (800) 264-0904 or (615) 532-1572
It’s important to remember that pursuant to Tennessee law, all persons capable of reporting suspected abuse are required to do so.
If none of the above steps adequately resolve the problems you are facing, the next step is to contact an attorney. Call The Higgins Firm today to speak with our highly qualified Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys.Things to Keep in Mind When Reporting Abuse
If you believe a loved one is being abused by a home health aide, caregiver, adult child, or facility, you may want to keep the following things in mind:
Don't confront the alleged abuse on your own. Unless you are placing your loved one in another facility, this approach may put them in further danger.
Strength in numbers. If your loved one is reluctant to seek alternative care, ask friends and family members to talk with them together.
Remember shame can keep the abuse going. It might feel difficult to talk about the abuse, especially if the caregiver is a family member. The sooner you do so, the better the situation will become. If you are unsure about what to do you can speak with a nursing home abuse lawyer in Tennessee.Can I Report Abuse Anonymously?
In Tennessee you can report nursing home abuse anonymously. In other states this might vary. These laws protect the individual making the report from civil and criminal liability - as long as the report was made in good faith. It protects medical professionals reporting alleged abuse by not holding them responsible for a breach of privacy or confidentiality in relation to the persons' medical records.Questions You May Be Asked
If you contact the Tennessee Adult Protective Services, or another social services agency, you may be asked the following:
- Your name and contact information (unless you are reporting anonymously)
- The names of the parties involved
- The relationships of the parties involved
- The age, mental, and physical health condition of the individual
- Your concerns and any observations
- Whether you believe the individual is immediate danger
- Any assets belonging to the individual that could be subjected to exploitation or theft
- Whether there are any witnesses, and their contact details
- Whether you have any relevant documentation or evidence
You will also likely be asked about whether you have personally witnessed forms of abuse. You can ask the agency what they will do and how to proceed. If you are concerned about reporting the alleged abuse, please speak with a nursing home abuse lawyer Tennessee families have trusted for years.Call A Leading Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer from The Higgins Firm
If you believe a loved one is being abused in a nursing home, and you would like to know whether you can pursue a legal claim, please call The Higgins Firm now at 1.800.705.2121.