When Neglect or Abuse Happens

I think my mother is being neglected by the nursing home.  She's always lying in urine and she never seems to be turned or repositioned.  She has bedsores on her rear-end that go to the bone. What can I do?

If you suspect neglect or abuse in a nursing home or assisted living facility, you should first do everything possible to remove the harm.  Complain to a nurse, the nurse’s supervisor, the director of nursing, and the administrator until the harm has been removed and your mother is safe.  If your mother is in immediate jeopardy, you should instruct the facility to obtain immediate medical attention by transferring her to the hospital.

Once the harm has been removed and your mother is safe, you should contact our office to discuss what happened and how it affected your mother so we can protect her rights and yours.  You should call as soon as possible -- time is of the essence.  Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are increasingly relying on arbitration provisions that rob you and your loved one of access to a court of law when loved ones are injured or killed as a result of neglect or abuse.  Virginia law provides a limited number of days after an injury or death within which to opt-out of an arbitration provision and preserve access to the court system, so we will need to act quickly.  We will also need to investigate the neglect or abuse before witnesses, documents, or conditions are destroyed, disappear, are intentionally altered, or simply change with time.  For example, we may need photographs of severe pressure ulcers (bedsores) in order to preserve evidence of their appearance at critical times.  None of this can occur unless we meet quickly to discuss your concerns and develop a plan of action.

In addition, you may want to contact the adult protective services (APS) section of your local department of social services, a regional ombudsman, and the Virginia Department of Health to investigate the neglect or abuse.  These agencies frequently have access immediately to documents and witnesses that may not be available when we conduct our investigation.  If you want to file a formal complaint with the Virginia Department of Health, you will need to mail or fax a Consumer Complaint Report, along with any supporting documents, to:

Complaint Intake
Office of Licensure and Certification
Virginia Department of Health
9960 Mayland Drive, Suite 401
Richmond, VA  23233-1463
Telephone: (804) 367-2106
Toll Free: 1-800-955-1819
Fax:  (804) 527-4503

I want to get you involved quickly. How can I contact you?

You can contact me in any way convenient to you.  The “Contact Us” page of our website contains telephone numbers, email addresses, and fax numbers, any one or more of which you are welcome to use.  The “Contact Us” page also contains an Information Form, which my office will receive after you complete online and click “Submit.”  I or a member of my staff will contact you in response.  Driving directions are contained on the “Contact Us” page.  Time delays can affect your claim, so you should contact us as soon as possible.

I can't make it to your office. Where can we meet?

We can meet at any location convenient to you.  My office is always available, but I am able to meet with you at a nursing home, assisted living facility, hospital, your house, or at other convenient locations.  As we work together, I will always try to make meetings convenient with any schedule and travel limitations you may have.

Will I be charged to discuss my concerns with you?

I do not charge for initial conferences.  I provide a free case review to determine what happened so we both can learn more about your concerns.  An initial meeting also lets us meet and become comfortable working together.

Once we decide to investigate, what happens next?

I obtain and review the records from the nursing home or assisted living facility, as well as records from other treating health-care providers.  I review the records personally and have them reviewed by qualified health care professionals.  The health care professionals and I then determine if a claim against the facility is appropriate.  If so, a claim letter is sent to the nursing home or assisted living facility, and the facility’s insurance company usually assumes handling of the claim.  The claim can be settled, or a lawsuit can be filed if the matter is not resolved to your satisfaction.