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What do I do if I suspect a nursing home patient is being abused?

Families all across Illinois know a loved one who is being cared for in a nursing home. In fact, there are roughly 1.4 million residents in these facilities across the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Many of these patients receive the type of care that has been promised by individual facilities. However, there are many people who are mistreated or neglected by nursing home staff workers who are untrained, overworked, poorly supervised or not properly vetted during the hiring process. If you suspect that your loved one is in the latter group, you need to understand what you can and should do to protect that person.

To begin with, you need to report any suspected mistreatment as soon as possible to state Adult Protective Services. Depending on the information provided, the agency may launch an investigation into the allegations. 

The investigation will generally involve speaking with nursing home staff, other patients, family members and the person who may have been abused or neglected. Unfortunately, many victims and other nursing home patients are not physically or mentally capable of reporting or discussing instances of mistreatment which is why these investigations can be so complicated.

However, once the investigation is completed, action may be taken to penalize the facility or certain workers and remove the victim from a dangerous situation if the allegations are confirmed.

In some cases, these measures may be adequate. In others, however, victims and their family members are unsatisfied with what may seem like a slap on the wrist. They want negligent parties punished for harming vulnerable patients and facilities closed down if they allowed or enabled abusive behaviors.

If you have found yourself in this difficult situation and are at the point where you want to take legal action, you can speak with an attorney who can help you prepare a claim for compensation and legal accountability. Families go to great lengths to try and make sure a loved one is being treated with dignity and respect in a nursing home. If they are not, the same efforts should be made to put a stop to mistreatment and punish those responsible.

Source: FindLaw.com, "Nursing Home Abuse FAQ," accessed on July 20, 2015

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