Investigating Possible Abuse in Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities in New York

The elderly and chronically ill are vulnerable to physical, verbal, emotional, sexual and financial abuse.  Nursing home residents are dependent on others for their daily care and may be afraid or embarrassed to report instances of even minor nursing home abuse.  In nursing homes, potential abusers are not limited to staff but may include other residents, family members, outside medical practitioners, and even lawyers, clergy, family friends and professional con artists.

Facilities accepting Medicare and Medicaid are government certified and are required to develop policies and procedures for identifying, reporting and investigating charges of abuse.  In New York, for example, all professionals who care for nursing home residents are required to report to the facility administrator all instances of suspected abuse or maltreatment.  The facility must investigate the incident within 24 hours and determine if there is “reasonable cause” to believe that abuse, neglect or maltreatment occurred.
If “reasonable cause” is found, the matter must be referred to the state Department of Health (DOH).  The DOH may either accept the results of the nursing home’s investigation or conduct a full investigation of its own.  In almost all cases, the identity of the abused resident and the person reporting the abuse are kept confidential by the DOH in order to avoid fear of retaliation by the nursing home or those responsible for the abuse.  Family members who disagree with the result of the nursing home’s investigation may report the incident to state authorities for a formal investigation of the facility.
A thorough investigation by the nursing home facility includes:

  • A description of the resident’s condition leading to suspicion of abuse.
  • The date and time the incident was discovered, how it was discovered and who discovered it.
  • A description of the area in which the incident occurred.
  • A description of the resident’s physical, emotional and behavioral condition prior to discovery of the incident.
  • Names of staff, roommates, visitors, volunteers and any others who might have knowledge of the incident, along with notes of interviews and signed, dated statements of persons interviewed.
  • A list of questions posed to persons interviewed.
  • A statement from the resident, if he or she is able to provide one.

If you suspect that your relative may be a victim of elder abuse in New York, please contact the personal injury attorneys at The Orlow Firm immediately. Signs of abuse can include bedsores, bruises, or your family member going missing from a nursing home.

Personal Injury Attorneys Investigating Possible Cases of Abuse in Nursing Homes

Nursing care facilities must be able to show the DOH that they conducted an immediate investigation, explain what evidence and documents they reviewed and state their conclusions. Not every grievance or complaint against a nursing home rises to the level of abuse.  The investigative resources of state and local authorities are limited and should be allocated to investigating serious incidents of abuse.  If you have questions about reporting and investigating the abuse of a loved one in a nursing home, contact the Orlow firm.  Our attorneys can help you decide if, when, where and how to report the incident and offer guidance as to the appropriate procedures to be followed.