NursingHomeAccording to a 2014 report from the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, one-third of all nursing home patients are harmed through their care.

Often, the incident occurs through something ordinary, such as negligence or delays in providing standard treatments. The patient and family members aren’t aware, and soon enough, he or she returns to the hospital, requiring more medical attention. These repeat visits cost Medicare $2.8 billion per year.

Yet, if you have a family member receiving care and you suspect something seems off, here’s what you can do:

Investigate Yourself

When you’ve got a family member receiving care, it’s advised to make frequent and unannounced visits and to get to know the facility’s staff. In doing this, spend some time listening and talking to your family member, and make sure he or she has a clear sense of the facility, its procedures, and all daily routines. This should include the steps for reporting abuse within the home.

A family member’s complaints, however, may be minor: about living arrangements and the food, for instance. Mollifying the situation may be as simple as having your family member moved to another room or reassigned to a different caregiver.

But beyond these common complaints, your family member may be describing a serious issue concerning care. If this seems to be the case, look for signs of neglect: bed sores, unexplained weight loss, or other residents left unattended.

Be Aware of Patients’ Rights

If you’re concerned that filing a complaint may get your family evicted, know your rights first. Federal nursing home regulations and state laws:

  • Allow a patient to refuse care, such as restraints and feeding tubes;
  • Have specific requirements for when a resident can be evicted;
  • State that staff have to make reasonable accommodations for a patient’s needs and preferences.

File a Complaint

Medicare states that and Medicare- and Medicaid-certified nursing homes must have a grievance procedure for complaints. At this point, it’s recommended that you file the complaint and bring it to the attention to the home’s resident or family council.

Speak With Staff

When you think something’s wrong, see if, first, you can meet with the home’s supervisor, social worker, director of nursing, administrator, or doctor to discuss your concerns.

If the home’s staff is unresponsive, start seeking outside help – the Long-Term Care Ombudsman or the State Survey Agency assists with nursing home issues.

Your family member’s care and safety should not be compromised, and if the issues you spot are not addressed, getting legal assistance is the next step. For pursuing a claim, contact Trantolo & Trantolo to speak with a nursing home negligence attorney.