Many families perform extensive research before placing their vulnerable or elderly loved one in a nursing home. That due diligence doesn’t help when a rogue actor, such as an undertrained or overworked caregiver, decides to spontaneously take their frustrations out on your loved one.
Nursing home abuse can take on many different forms, and your loved one may show different signs of having been subjected to ill-treatment depending on what they faced. There are specific steps you should take if you are concerned that your loved one has endured abuse in Baton Rouge or elsewhere in our state. Continue reading to learn more about how to report nursing home abuse in Louisiana.
What To Know About Licensing Requirements Applicable to Louisiana Nursing Homes
The Health Standards Section of the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) is responsible for licensing nursing facilities wishing to operate in our state. The LDH uses the terminology “nursing home” and “nursing facility” interchangeably to refer to any residence or building where two or more individuals unrelated to the owner by marriage or blood reside and are cared for by someone else because they’re unable to do so themselves. Nursing homes can be for-profit or non-profit operations.
Having a clear understanding of what constitutes a nursing home in Louisiana can help you determine who to report suspected elder abuse to.
Reporting Nursing Home Abuse to the State of Louisiana
If you suspect abuse and your loved one lives in a licensed nursing home, you can reach the LDH’s HSS Nursing Home Abuse Hotline by calling 1-888-810-1819.
It’s important to have as much information as possible when reporting such suspicions, including details such as:
- The title (i.e., licensed practical nurse (LPN) or custodian), department (i.e., dining room or resident care), and name of any staff members involved
- The dates of the onset of the abuse and any subsequent known incidents
There are other numbers and modes of filing complaints applicable to non-licensed Louisiana long-term care facilities, home health and hospice care environments, and other medical facilities.
What Types of Treatment Fall Into the Category of Nursing Home Abuse?
When many people hear the term “abuse,” they automatically envision physical violence. While certainly physical abuse is a common type of ill-treatment nursing home residents have the misfortune of enduring, it’s not the only type. The various types of ill-treatment that fall under the umbrella of nursing home abuse include:
- Physical abuse: Any use of force, including aggressively moving your loved one, may constitute physical abuse as can more obvious physical aggression such as punching, pushing, slapping, and forcefully grabbing them.
- Psychological abuse: Also referred to as mental or emotional abuse, this type of abuse may involve a nursing home staff member talking down to or using foul language with your loved one. Any verbal abuse that causes a nursing home resident to feel less than or threatened, or otherwise aims to diminish their self-esteem or drive a wedge between them and others, may leave a lasting impression on a victim’s psyche.
- Sexual abuse: Perpetrators may take advantage of a potential victim being immobile, non-verbal, or some other vulnerability to commit non-consensual acts upon a nursing home resident. Any such treatment constitutes sexual abuse and can also significantly impact a nursing home resident’s sense of safety within their nursing home and adversely impact their interactions with those closest to them.
- Financial abuse: This involves the theft of any cash, checks, credit or debit cards, family heirlooms, or personally identifiable information that can be used for financially exploitative purposes.
Louisiana Laws Regarding Elder Abuse
Louisiana Revised Statute (RS) § 15:1504(A) spells out how certain individuals have a legal obligation to report any concerns regarding treatment that may endanger the mental or physical health or overall welfare of adults. This state statute additionally outlines who is required to report suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation of adults. Those individuals include any health workers, including mental health and social services practitioners. This state law also prohibits anyone who makes a good faith report and cooperates in the investigation from facing legal liability for their actions.
Louisiana RS § 14:403.2 details the punishments associated with a mandated reporter, as described in RS § 15:1504(A) above, not reporting suspected abuse or neglect. It also describes the penalties associated with someone obstructing an investigation into or retaliating against someone who reports suspected abuse and the treatment of those who make false allegations.
Other Louisiana Revised Statutes contained within § 15:501 through § 15:511 contain additional information about how our state classifies abuse and obligations of others to report any suspicious behaviors. However, the key element here is that abuse of adults, elders included, in itself is illegal in Louisiana. It’s also unlawful for those who know it’s occurring, such as nursing home LPN colleagues, to not report their knowledge of it.
Laws like these don’t only leave the door open to responsible parties facing criminal charges, but can also be helpful in building a strong case of liability in the civil court system if a nursing home staff member witnessed your loved one’s ill-treatment but didn’t make any effort to report it.
Where a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Figures Into Your Reporting
Data published by the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) cites elder abuse as affecting at least 10% of adults aged 60 or over. Watchdog groups believe abuse goes highly underreported, though.
If you have reason to believe that your loved one has been subjected to elder abuse, don’t expect your loved one who’s been battered and emotionally beaten down to come forward and say so. You should err on the side of caution and report any concerns so the appropriate authorities can launch an investigation to find out for sure before any further harm is done.
It can be unnerving to report potential illicit activities, especially if you don’t know for sure they’re happening and you worry about “shaking up things” and the implications that may have on your loved one’s health and safety if you do.
A nursing home abuse lawyer at our Baton Rouge personal injury law firm, Bianca | Matkins, can help you strategize what your next steps should be if you suspect a relative is being abused in their nursing home, including calling the LA HHS hotline to lodge a formal complaint. An attorney from our office can also advise you of your right to recover compensation for all that has happened during your complimentary initial consultation, so reach out to us today.