How to report malpractice in a nursing home

A huge problem in nursing home practices is that abuse and negligence can occur. The fact that a lot of money is put into these homes, one would expect a high degree of effort and standards. But sadly this is not the case for many, in fact, in recent years we have seen a massive rise in nursing home fraud has occurred. This seems to be the newest abuse trend, sweeping across nursing homes in several states.


 A huge issue in tackling abuse in nursing homes is that it can be incredibly difficult to first identify but then also, to get it reported correctly. Patients of these homes are elderly individuals meaning that sometimes they do not know how to react to the situation accordingly. Furthermore, due to their age, they may have difficulty in communicating when the abuse occurs and also may suffer from memory problems. This on top of family members not having the time to see their loved ones often, meaning that abuse does not get noticed and therefore not reported.


So, as we have discussed, many cases of abuse go unnoticed and not reported. What is extremely shocking is that even though many, if not most, are not seen or reported, there is still a humungous number of cases that are reported, and it is this fact that is very disturbing. A study that was conducted by the House Government Reform Committee, specifically their special investigations unit, found that abuse in nursing homes happened in over a quarter of patients which is also a horrifying statistic. Issues that stem from abuse and negligence include lack of medical service, no hygienic care, accidents that should not have occurred, bedsores and malnutrition.


When the family of the elderly individual at the nursing home go to visit, it is vital to be vigilant and aware to look out for any signs of abuse as, as previously mentioned, your loved one may not be able to communicate this to you for a variety of reasons. Even though seeing signs of abuse can be difficult, there are some things that you can watch for specifically.


Signs include:

  • If your loved one seems to be avoiding social contact

  • Clear signs of behavior change

  • Bruises

  • Presence of bedsores

  • Changes to the will that can't be explained

  • Changes to the power of attorney that can't be explained

  • Bleeding wounds

  • Clear neglect in hygiene

  • Unexplained contractions of diseases or infections


If any of these signs are present it is of the utmost importance that this is reported as soon as possible. Nurses, doctors, social workers, and basically all health care professions are, by law, required to report signs of abuse in nursing homes. It is extremely important to act quickly in reporting signs of abuse and to do so to the correct authorities. The National Eldercare abuse page which is located through the Administration of Aging offers information, including phone numbers and contact information of what authorities to report to. Eldercare Locator can give you information about state regulations and laws. Contacting the primary carer of the patient should be done for further information but if the patient’s health is in a clear state of fast decline then call emergency services on 911.