If you suspect your loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse, taking immediate action is essential. You have several options available, including filing a nursing home abuse claim with a personal injury lawyer.
Gather Evidence If You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse
To make sure your complaint of nursing home abuse is fully investigated, you'll need to gather whatever evidence you can provide. This may include:
- Information provided by your loved one
- Actions you've specifically witnessed
- Behavior changes you've noticed in your loved one
- Applicable signs of physical injury
- Statements from other individuals who have concerns about the treatment your loved one has received
Seniors are often reluctant to admit to being mistreated due to fear or embarrassment. Some may also struggle to recount events due to memory loss or cognitive impairments. However, trusting your instincts is key. If you feel that there is a problem, it is your duty to speak up.
Report the Issue to the Nursing Home Administrator
If you have concerns about the care your loved one is receiving, you should first attempt to resolve the issue with facility administrators. In many cases, the administrator can take action to address concerns caused by inappropriately trained staff members or other residents who are engaging in abusive behavior due to dementia or cognitive impairment.
Call the Louisiana Elderly Protective Services (EPS) Hotline
If you are unable to resolve the issue to your satisfaction by speaking directly to the nursing home administrator, you can take immediate action by reporting the abuse to the Louisiana Elderly Protective Services (EPS) Hotline at (800) 259-4990. When you call this number, you'll be asked to provide the nursing home resident’s name, his address, and any details you have about the suspected abuse.
In some cases, you are allowed to contact the EPS hotline with a confidential report. However, you should be prepared to provide your contact information if asked. The investigator who is assigned to review your complaint may wish to interview family members and review the medical records of the nursing home resident.
Call the Louisiana State Long-Term Care Ombudsman
The Louisiana State Long-Term Care Ombudsman can also be a resource for protecting your loved one. Ombudsmen are individuals who investigate claims and advocate for your family with the nursing home administrators to help resolve the issue.
You can call the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman at (225) 342-7100 or toll free at (866) 632-0922. Additional information is also available on the Governor's Office of Elderly Affairs website. Ombudsman services are confidential and free of charge.
File a Health Standards Section Complaint
The Health Standards Section investigates complaints against licensed health care providers in the state of Louisiana. This includes nursing homes, as well as facilities for the developmentally disabled or home- and community-based service providers.
You can download a complaint form from the Health Standards Section website, or call (888) 810-1819 to file a complaint about a nursing home within the state.
If you have already filed a formal written complaint with the nursing home administrator, you should wait 30 days for the facility to investigate before filing a complaint with the Health Standards Section.
Contact Local Law Enforcement
Certain forms of elder abuse may necessitate taking action with local law enforcement. For example, if you believe your loved one is a victim of identity theft or other forms of financial abuse, local law enforcement may be able to assist you in recovering the lost funds.
Whenever you believe a situation places your loved one in immediate physical danger, calling 911 is the safest course of action.
Contact a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
Taking legal action might seem extreme, but this may be the only way to protect your loved one from being victimized. A nursing home abuse attorney can help you gather evidence, document damages, and negotiate for the compensation your loved one deserves. Filing a nursing home abuse claim in a court of law can also help to promote long-term changes within the facility, thus protecting the interests of other vulnerable seniors in similar situations.
When your loved one lacks the capacity to fully participate in legal action, a guardian ad litem can be appointed to act on his behalf. In most cases, this person is a spouse or an adult child. However, when there is no suitable relative available, a third-party appointed by the court can fill this role.
The experienced attorneys at Neblett, Beard & Arsenault are committed to advocating for the rights of vulnerable Louisiana seniors. Contact us online or call us directly at 318.588.6303 to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review.