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Witnessing and Reporting Nursing Home Abuse

Sadly, nursing home abuse is an everyday occurrence in Michigan. In some cases the abuse takes the form of neglect. But sometimes the abuse escalates to physical or even sexual assault.

Family members often suspect nursing home abuse but fail to report it, either because they do not know the proper procedures or they simply fear nobody will believe them. Without direct evidence, abuse allegations often lead to a “he said/she said” standoff. As a result, many family members decide it is not worth making trouble, lest the nursing home take it out on their already vulnerable relative.

What Are the Signs of Abuse?

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Doing nothing and hoping the problem goes away is never a solution. There are steps you can take to help identify and stop nursing home abuse.

First, you should visit your relative frequently but not on a regular schedule. In other words, if you visit your grandmother every Wednesday at noon, nursing home staff will know to expect you and may cover up any evidence of neglect or abuse. But if you come on a different day each week–say Tuesday morning one week and Thursday afternoon the next–you are more likely to catch the abuse.

Second, ask plenty of questions about your relative’s care. Keep written notes of any questions and answers. Additionally, take note of the cleanliness and overall condition of the nursing home. Use your phone’s camera to take pictures if necessary.

Third, pay special attention to any suspicious or unexplained injuries. Bedsores are a common sign of neglect. Sudden weight loss may be a sign of dehydration or starvation. And if there are any unusual marks on your relative, it may indicate assault or battery.

Where Do I Report Abuse?

If you have any reason to suspect abuse or neglect, you should immediately inform the nursing home’s administrator or other designated official, such as the head nurse or patient advocate. And if you have any reason to believe there has been criminal abuse, such as sexual assault, you should contact the Michigan State Police or local law enforcement. Do not attempt to deal with criminal matters by yourself.

The Michigan Attorney General’s office and the Michigan Department of Consumer and Industry Services also have oversight responsibility for nursing homes. The Attorney General maintains a special hotline (800-24-ABUSE) to report nursing homes.

Contact a Qualified Michigan Elder Law Attorney

You should also seek independent legal advice from a qualified Michigan elder law attorney who can help you take a proactive stance to address and stop any nursing home abuse before the situation deteriorates further. Contact the Law Offices of David L. Carrier, P.C., if you require immediate legal assistance.