Thousands of people throughout the State of California entrust the care of their loved ones to nursing homes. Though many nursing homes provide excellent care to their patients, some facilities fail to meet even the basic needs of their elderly residents, and in the most extreme cases sub-standard care can lead to horrible instances of abuse and neglect to which no human being should be subjected. Issues which are cause for concern include poor care, under-staffing, unsafe conditions, mistreatment, physical abuse or neglect, or any matter protected by law.
In many instances, a good place to start is by speaking with the staff of the nursing home to bring their attention to the specific issues with which you are concerned. You may also contact your county’s Long Term Care Ombudsman, as he or she may be able to help you resolve your concerns about an elderly resident’s care and rights.
If your concerns are not resolved, you should strongly consider filing a complaint with the Licensing and Certification Division of the California Department of Public Health, or DPH. A complaint can be filed by the patient, family members, or ANYONE who suspects that an elderly resident is not receiving the care which he/she is entitled to receive. When filing your complaint, you should include the following information:
– The name of the resident
– Your name, contact information, and relation to the resident
– The name and address of the facility
– Specific details regarding the abuse or neglect, including dates and times
– The names of potential witnesses and/or people involved, including nursing home staff and physicians
– Any records which may assist an investigation
Keep a copy of any written materials you provide to the DPH, including the complaint itself, and it’s wise to follow up within a reasonable amount of time, depending on the severity of the abuse or neglect and potential for harm to arise from the mistreatment.
As required by California law, DPH must begin an onsite investigation of your complaint within 10 working days after receiving the complaint, or if the complaint indicates a potential for imminent harm to an elderly patient DPH must begin their investigation within 24 hours after receipt of the complaint. California law also requires that DPH notify you of the name of the assigned investigator and provide you with a response of their findings within 10 days of completing their investigation. You also have the right to request and obtain an informal conference with DPH, and if you are not satisfied after meeting with DPH that they have adequately addressed the concerns raised in your complaint you may appeal to the California Department of Public Health, Center for Healthcare Quality.
For a concise list of all government agencies in your area who will be able to assist you in the processing of complaints about nursing home residents, including your local Ombudsman’s Program and the California Department of Public Health, visit the website of the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform at www.canhr.com.
Filing a complaint of abuse or neglect can be a lengthy and sometimes frustrating process, but your efforts will be rewarded when your loved one receives the care and treatment he or she deserves. For more information about how to report elder abuse, visit our website’s Recourse Center.
The legal professionals at Berman & Riedel, LLP handle nursing home abuse and neglect cases throughout the State of California. Our team of attorneys, paralegals and professional staff represent victims of elder abuse and neglect, including patients of skilled nursing facilities and residential care facilities for the elderly in Southern California. If you or your loved one has any questions or concerns regarding the care rendered by a California nursing home or other type of care facility, please call our office today at (858) 350-8855. Our legal professionals can meet with you and your family for an initial free consultation to discuss the rights you may have under California and federal law.