What steps to take when reporting the abuse or neglect of a senior in nursing home
Entrusting the care of a family member to a nursing home can be unnerving. Unfortunately, the general mistrust in nursing home facilities is not entirely unfounded. From 2013 to 2017, the number of nursing home abuse cases rose by nearly 11 percent nationwide. In response to the alarming trend, Florida has increased its focus on encouraging those who suspect elder abuse to report it.
In addition to reporting the abuse to local authorities, we encourage you to contact an experienced Florida nursing home abuse lawyer at TragosLaw if your loved one was mistreated in an elderly care facility.
Florida nursing home abuse reporting requirements
Family members should remain actively involved with their relatives who require nursing home care. Observation is key to detecting and reporting nursing home misconduct, neglect and abuse as early as possible. Use conversations with nursing home residents as an opportunity to gain insight into day-to-day activities that occur beyond the casual glance of a visitor.
If a relative complains of conflict with a worker or a neglected need, it’s not enough to simply speak with the nursing home’s management. Under Florida law, you are required to report your observations to the state.
Florida offers several options to help residents comply with the state’s mandatory reporting law on elder abuse. You may file your report over the phone or in writing online via Florida’s official website. Florida also provides reporting forms on its website for reporters to download and return to the state’s designated fax number.
If you observe any signs of physical, emotional, financial or sexual abuse, or neglect, notify the Florida Department of Children and Families. Also, express your concerns to your loved one’s healthcare practitioner to ensure potential injuries are properly examined and treated.
Immunity for nursing home abuse reporters
Florida’s legislature recognizes that, in some instances, reporting elder abuse may implicate the reporter in criminal activity. For example, someone who witnesses evidence of elder abuse while breaking into a nursing home to steal prescription drugs would inherently reveal his unlawful entry into the property at the time of his observation.
Florida law provides immunity to reporters of nursing home abuse. Therefore, law enforcement would investigate the elder abuse. However, the trespasser couldn’t be prosecuted for breaking and entering.
How to report nursing home abuse in Florida
The state of Florida has outlined specific ways to report nursing home abuse or neglect.
People who suspect or witness abuse may file a report online at ReportAbuse.dcf.state.fl.us. Florida also maintains a 24/7 nursing home abuse hotline at 1-800-96-2873 or 1-800-96-ABUSE. Press 2 to report suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation of the elderly or a vulnerable adult.
Reporting suspected abuse of vulnerable adults and seniors is mandatory. If the senior is in immediate danger or needs medical attention as a result of abuse, the state urges the observer to call 911.
Florida law specifically requires people who are aware of abuse, exploitation, neglect or self-neglect to report the information to the state. It takes the work of the entire community to keep all of Florida’s most vulnerable residents safe from abuse and neglect.
To learn more about how to report nursing home neglect, visit the state’s Department of Children and Families website.
When to contact a Florida nursing home & elder abuse attorney
Reporting elder abuse to the state is only the first step. If your loved one has experienced abuse in a nursing home, civil remedies may also be available. Victims of elder abuse may be entitled to compensation for medical treatment, recovery of lost finances and possibly for intangible damages such as pain and suffering.
Your family should consult with an attorney to see if physical, emotional, sexual or financial abuse has occurred. Lastly, an experienced nursing home abuse attorney can also support your family in filing a claim and pursuing an investigation of a nursing home facility through the legal process the state has set forth.
While reporting signs of abuse to the state is mandatory, contacting an attorney is optional — but highly recommended. To learn more about your legal options if your loved one was a victim of elder abuse, contact our experienced attorneys at the law firm of Tragos, Sartes & Tragos.
Your first consultation is free and confidential. We can help you navigate Florida’s elder abuse laws, and help your family gather the evidence needed to build a strong personal injury case against the nursing home.
Contact Tragos, Sartes and Tragos today for a free case consultation.