TWO WAYS TO REPORT NURSING HOME ABUSE AND NEGLECT
How to report nursing home neglect? Before we discuss the how, let’s talk about what is considered nursing home neglect in Florida. In Florida the Department of Children and Families (DCF) is the agency primarily responsible for investigating any complaints of nursing home neglect of a vulnerable adult. According to Florida statutes, and as enforced by the agency, these are the relevant definitions to know:
Vulnerable Adult: A vulnerable adult is a person 18 years of age or older whose ability to perform the normal activities of daily living or to provide for his or her own care or protection is impaired due to disability, brain damage, or the infirmities of aging.
Neglect: Neglect” means the failure or omission on the part of the caregiver … to provide the care, supervision, and services necessary to maintain the physical and mental health of the vulnerable adult, including, but not limited to, food, clothing, medicine, shelter, supervision, and medical services, which a prudent person would consider essential for the well-being of a vulnerable adult.
In other words, if you suspect that a nursing home resident has not been provided with the medical treatment necessary to preserve their health and well being and they have experienced an injury, such as a bedsore, a serious infection or other injury, that is a reportable allegation of nursing home neglect in Florida. Many people believe that the only time they should get DCF involved is if there is actual intentional abuse. That’s simply not the case. A vulnerable nursing home resident can suffer equally catastrophic injuries when their medical needs are ignored just as if an employee intentionally meant to hurt them.
Now that we’ve discussed what DCF will investigate we can talk about what you can do if you believe a resident has been neglected in a facility. In addition to calling the Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers and nurses here at the Turnbull Firm you can report a confidential complaint of Abuse or Neglect to DCF.
The first way to file a complaint is to call the toll free line 800-962-2873. When you call you will be given several options. Since our complaint deals with neglect of the elderly you should select 2.
Press 2 to report suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation of the elderly or a vulnerable adult
You will be transferred to someone to gather information about your concerns. You should be prepared to provide:
- specific descriptions of the incident(s) or the circumstances contributing to the risk of harm,
- who was involved, what occurred, when and where it occurred,
- why it happened, the extent of any injuries sustained, what the victim(s) said happened, and any other pertinent information are very important.
- Name, date of birth (or approximate age), race, and gender, for all adults.
- Information regarding disabilities and/or limitations of the victims (especially for vulnerable adult victims).
- Relationship of the alleged perpetrator to the child or adult victim(s).
Even if you are unable to obtain some of the information, you may still call the Hotline and a counselor will assess the information available to see if it meets statutory criteria for the Department of Children and Families to initiate a protective investigation.
As bedsore lawyers we often have a chance to speak to employees off the record. We always ask why didn’t you report your concerns. They almost always ask us Will the person(s) or facility know I reported him or her?
All nursing home neglect reports are confidential. Access to these reports is limited by specific criteria in Chapters 39 and 415 of the Florida Statutes (F.S.). In fact, if you refer to the DCF’s website it specifically states:
Florida Abuse Hotline Counselors will not acknowledge the existence of any report, will not acknowledge that they have previously spoken to a particular caller, nor will they release any information provided by a caller or any information contained in a report. No reports are released by the Abuse Hotline other than to those persons specifically authorized under Chapters 39 and 415, F.S. Any person with a statutory right to a report copy must contact the local investigative office.
Finally, why you do not have to give your name, if you are still concerned about your identity it is important to know that the names of reporters are held confidential, and under Florida Statutory requirements, should not be released to the individuals the report is about.
As a Florida nursing home neglect lawyer we understand many are alarmed by the neglect they witness but for many different reasons are reluctant to get involved. Florida now provides the ability to report allegations of abuse online. A link to the form is included below.
Now that you’ve made the report what really happens next? If the complaint is made against a nursing home facility a DCF counselor will ask the facility’s risk manager to pull the medical records surrounding the incident. They will interview the residents, the staff, family members and in some cases roommates. At the conclusion of their investigation they will prepare a report. It’s important to remember even if DCF does not find evidence of neglect that does not mean it did not happen or we are prevented from proving it in court. Actually, in Florida, significant parts of the DCF report cannot be used in a jury trial.
If you complained to DCF and they could not substantiate the allegations it is important you still speak to a Florida Nursing Home Neglect lawyer at the Turnbull Law firm. We work with a team of nurses to quickly evaluate all the evidence to determine if you have a claim for against the nursing home.