Reporting Nursing Home Negligence in Maryland
Nursing home residents usually have complex medical and assistance needs requiring 24-hour care. Families typically seek nursing home care when it is no longer possible to safely care for a person at home. For those that make that the tough decision of choosing a nursing home to care for an aging loved one, they also have to face the dark reality of nursing home abuse and neglect.
Who Should Report Neglect or Abuse?
Certain professionals are legally required to report suspected instances of nursing home mistreatment. Maryland law requires any health practitioner, police officer or human service worker who contacts, examines, attends or treats a vulnerable adult and who has reason to believe the elderly person has been subjected to abuse, neglect or exploitation to report that fact to the local department of social services. This should be done as soon as possible after the discovery. In fact, personnel in these positions should immediately tell the director of the institution and then make the report by calling the local social service office, by going in person, or by writing a letter outlining the details.
Of course, any concerned person may make such a report, and we must all do our part to stop nursing home abuse. Everyone with a friend or relative in a nursing home should be aware of certain danger signs and be ready to act if they appear. Anyone who suspects that a nursing home resident has been neglected or victimized by abuse should convey the information to Adult Protective Services, the police, or the Office of Health Care Quality.
What to Include in a Report
Items to include in the report, if possible, include:
- The name, age, and home address of the vulnerable adult.
- The name and address of the person responsible for providing care.
- The present location of the alleged vulnerable adult.
- The nature of the alleged vulnerable adult’s incapacity.
- The type and extent of abuse, neglect, or exploitation, including any evidence.
- The cause of the abuse, neglect, or exploitation.
- The identity of the individual responsible.
Maryland’s Legal Terminology
For reference, Maryland defines a vulnerable adult as a person over the age of 18 who lacks the physical or mental capacity to provide for himself.
Neglect is purposefully depriving a vulnerable adult of adequate food, clothing, essential medical treatment or therapy, shelter, or supervision.
Abuse is the sustaining of any physical injury by a vulnerable adult as a result of cruel or inhumane treatment or as a result of a malicious act by any person.
Exploitation refers to financial abuse and is defined as any action which involves the misuse of a vulnerable adult’s funds, property, or person.
Make an Official Report in Maryland
Nursing home quality varies widely from caregiver to caregiver. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and protected from avoidable pain and neglect that can lead to injury or death. If you suspect that an elderly person is being mistreated at the hands of a nursing home caregiver, don’t ignore your instincts. Nursing home patients may not be able to communicate about abuse or may be afraid to do so and rely on visitors to be on the lookout for signs of abuse.
Anyone who thinks that elder abuse is happening needs to notify the proper officials. Here are some options:
- Call 1-800-91-PREVENT (1-800-917-7383) to reach Maryland Adult Protective Services. Anybody making a report to this office is protected by state law, which ensures that any person who makes a report in good faith, or participates in an investigation or a judicial proceeding resulting from a report, is immune from any civil liability that would otherwise result.
- Call 1-800-AGE-DIAL (1-800-243-3425) to reach the Maryland Department of Aging. This office was established to protect the rights and quality of life of senior citizens in our state. The department works throughout Maryland and can easily offer assistance.
- At the same number, 1-800-AGE-DIAL, request the office of the Ombudsman for People in Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities. This office advocates for residents of nursing homes or other adult care facilities, working to improve services and quality of life for residents.
- The Older Americans Act of 1965 established the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program to protect the rights and promote the well-being of residents in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Every county in Maryland has a local ombudsman office. To reach one, call the Senior Information and Assistance Office in your county and they will connect you. Find the county office numbers at this link.
- Call 1-888-743-0023 to contact the Maryland Office of the Attorney General. This office is particularly helpful in cases of suspected exploitation of elderly citizens. It has formulated an Elder Abuse Initiative in an effort to lower the number of crimes committed against vulnerable adults. The attorney general’s office also offers a free publication on avoiding scams and fraud.
- Call 1-877-402-8201 for Maryland’s Office of Health Care Quality, a division of the state’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. This office oversees the licensing of nursing homes and will conduct an investigation after receiving a complaint involving abuse or neglect.
Then Call Our Maryland Nursing Home Law Firm
You’ll need assistance and advice through this process. If you suspect your loved one may have been harmed while living in a long-term care facility or a nursing home, call the Law Offices of Roger S. Weinberg, LLC, at 1-866-529-5839 or fill out this online form. Our dedicated elder abuse law attorneys have experience handling these tough situations. You can trust us to represent you and to fight for your family. Schedule your free consultation today and help speak for the voiceless.