How To Report A Medical Facility For Poor Care
Families expect their loved ones to receive quality care and support from medical facilities such as nursing homes, rehabilitation clinics and assisted living facilities. Unfortunately, many of these facilities have high staff turnover rates due to understaffing and poor training, often leaving vulnerable patients at risk for injuries due to neglect or abuse.
Reporting nursing home neglect is crucial to stop further abuse of your loved one and other residents. Bringing the complaint to the attention of the facility, the local long-term ombudsman, and the California Department of Public Health (DPH) can help resolve your case and give you peace of mind that your loved one is no longer at risk of harm.
You can also work with a nursing home abuse lawyer when reporting a nursing home for abuse and neglect to help you file a complaint for your loved one’s mistreatment with the local and state authorities.
Who Are Most Likely to Become Victims at a Medical Facility?
Elderly residents of nursing homes are the most likely to suffer mistreatment at the hands of staff or administration. According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 6 elderly people have experienced abuse or neglect in a community setting.
The most likely victims of poor medical care are typically full-time or temporary residents at the following facilities:
- Assisted living facilities
- Nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities
- Group homes that specialize in providing care for elderly or infirm individuals with intellectual disabilities
- Hospices and home health agencies
- Rehabilitation centers for seniors
- State-run living facilities
Adults who receive at-home care are also vulnerable to abuse or neglect. Elderly loved ones may experience poor care services such as adult day care, at-home hospice, and personal assistance providers.
What Happens When You File a Complaint?
You have several options for reporting neglect in nursing homes, long-term care facilities, or at-home care providers. The first step is filing a complaint with the facility. You can file an official complaint with the appropriate state agencies if the issue is not adequately addressed.
Local and state agencies must take immediate action when you file a complaint of abuse and neglect. Representatives from the California Department of Public Health will investigate your complaint using the following procedures:
- Examine the patient and facility to determine living and hygiene conditions
- Review of the medical records and treatment plan detailing the patient’s care
- Interview the person who filed the case on behalf of the patient, the patient’s attending doctor, nurses, other
- residents, and the patient’s relatives
California law requires anyone, including healthcare practitioners, who care for an elder to report signs of neglect, exploitation, or abuse to an agency. Mandated reporting guidelines require nursing home staff and administrators to notify the proper authorities if they notice the following:
- Elopement or when a resident goes missing due to dementia or Alzheimer’s
- Financial abuse, such as a staff member stealing money from a resident
- Physical abuse due to seeing injuries on a patient from an unknown source
- Mismanagement of a patient’s treatment plan, such as misdiagnosis or prescribing the wrong medication
- Insufficient care provided by the facility or attending doctor, such as inadequate discharge instructions
If you see signs of inadequate care in a nursing home resident, such as bedsores, inadequate nutrition, or poor medical care, you have the right to hold the medical facility responsible by filing a complaint or taking legal action.
How to File a Complaint Against a Medical Facility
If your loved one receives poor care, address the issue with the medical facility’s administration. You can work with the facility’s social worker or patient advocate to facilitate communication with the administration and seek a resolution to the negligent behavior.
In addition to speaking with the facility, you can file a complaint with California state and local regulatory agencies. Depending on the complaint and the results of an investigation, they can hold the facility responsible with citations and penalties.
Put Together Your Complaint
A complaint should include as much detail as possible, including when and how often neglect and abuse occurred, the staff members involved, and how they caused the resident’s illness or injury.
When applicable, you should include the following information in your complaint:
- Facility name and address
- Your name, contact information, and relationship to the resident
- Name of the resident on whose behalf you are complaining
- Incident dates and times
- Specific complaints, such as inadequate medication or poor living conditions
- List of witnesses, including certified nursing assistants
- Names of attending staff members to the resident
- Types of medical records that should be under examination by a state or local agency
You can contact your local long-term care ombudsperson office to advocate for your loved one. They can help investigate your case and report any serious issues regarding patient safety, well-being and care to the state.
File a Complaint with the Appropriate State Agency
State agencies can handle your complaint and give you advocacy support and information. You will report your complaint to the appropriate state agency based on the type of medical facility where your loved one is staying.
How to Report an Assisted Living Facility
The Community Care Licensing Division (CCLD) is part of the California Department of Social Services that oversees state-licensed facilities, including assisted living and rehabilitation facilities. The CCL office near the facility will investigate within 10 days of receiving your complaint. They can also help you understand how to report a rehabilitation center if the center neglected your loved one’s rehabilitative care.
How to Report a Nursing Home
A district office with the California Department of Public Health (DPH) will investigate your complaint within 10 days of filing. If your complaint involves death or serious physical harm, they can investigate within 24 hours. The DPH can issue Class A citations with fines of $2,000 to $20,000 or Class B citations carrying penalties of $100 to $2,000 to hold the facility responsible for the harm it caused your loved one.
Schedule an Informal Conference
The district office that conducted the complaint investigation can arrange an informal conference if the outcome of the investigation is unsatisfactory to you and your loved one. The facility may also participate in the conference. After the informal conference, the office should inform you of the investigation findings within 10 days.
If you wish to take your complaint further after the conference, you can request an appeal review in writing from the deputy director of the Center for Health Care Quality (CHCQ). The CHCQ’s staff members will handle your appeal and determine if there are any state violations. The final determination rests with the deputy director of the CHCQ, who reviews and approves your appeal.
What if the Medical Facility Retaliates Against Me or My Loved One?
California law prohibits retaliation or discrimination against residents during investigations of their complaints for reporting nursing home neglect. The state fines long-term care facilities $10,000 for discriminatory treatment within 180 days of the complaint.
If you believe your loved one experienced retaliation from a medical facility due to your complaint, you can work with an experienced board and care lawyer. They can investigate the facility’s retaliatory actions and protect your rights during the ongoing investigation.
Explore Your Rights for Filing a Nursing Home Complaint
Reporting a medical facility for poor care is essential to keeping your loved one safe if mistreatment occurs. Your loved one has the right to safe and quality care, and speaking up can help ensure that others receive the same.
The process of reporting and addressing complaints can feel overwhelming, but it is a necessary step to improving the overall quality of care provided by medical facilities.
Work with a qualified attorney to assist in understanding your rights and filing a complaint with the nursing home and CDPH. Obtaining legal representation can help you protect your loved one’s rights to a safe environment that ensures they receive quality care.
Contact the law offices of Berberian Ain LLP, to schedule a free consultation. We will help you file a formal complaint and represent your loved one’s interests throughout the investigation.