How to Protect a Loved One from Iowa Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect

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Posted by Pressley Henningsen

Do you suspect that your loved one is a victim of Iowa nursing home abuse or neglect? If you believe a nursing home resident is being mistreated, there are some things you can do to protect them.

Recognize the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

It’s important you know what the signs of abuse or neglect look like. Here is a list of common things to look for:

  • Unexplained bruises or marks
  • Increased falls, especially those that cause broken bones or head injuries
  • Changes in personality – becoming depressed, afraid, or combative
  • Severe malnutrition or dehydration
  • Bedsores and other infections
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Seeming groggy or tired most of the time

Remember that these injuries and behaviors are not always signs of nursing home neglect or abuse, but they should, in the very least, raise questions about the level of care being provided. If you are uneasy, you may want to contact an Iowa nursing home abuse attorney.

Is It Dementia or Is It Abuse?

Be aware that personality changes in the elderly are often quickly dismissed as evidence of dementia. While dementia can be one possibility for these changes, nursing home abuse or neglect can be another. If you suspect elder abuse, have a complete physical and mental examination done on your loved one by a doctor you trust. If dementia is ruled out, consider the possibility your loved one may be trying to tell you something.

Report the Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect As Soon As Possible

Once you have determined your loved one is being abused or neglected, the first step is to discuss your concerns with the facility’s administrator. Bring any pictures or other proof with you to the meeting. The administrator should address each of your concerns fully and completely. It is possible that perceived nursing home abuse or neglect was a result of miscommunication or other issues within the facility. If they do not correct the issue or issues you bring up, you can move on to file a formal complaint.

Filing a Complaint with the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals

If the abuse or neglect is severe, or continues to occur, a formal complaint should be filed with the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals (DIA) Health Facilities Division. The DIA is responsible for the inspection and regulation of all Medicare- and Medicaid-certified nursing home facilities in Iowa.

The form can be filled out online, mailed to the DIA office, or by calling the toll-free complaint intake line at 1-877-686-0027. Be as specific as you can when filing the complaint.

This is where keeping a file of any previous nursing home abuse or neglect issues comes in handy. You can produce care plans, incident reports, medical records, and other important papers you may have. Along with these papers, include the dates and descriptions of supposed abuse or neglect. An Iowa nursing home abuse attorney can help with this process.

Once you have filed a complaint, the DIA will investigate the nursing home. They will conduct interviews, review facility records, observe the staff, and even speak with the residents. Once the evidence has been collected and reviewed, the DIA will decide whether to issue a complaint or if the report is not substantiated.

Regardless of how the DIA may rule, you may no longer feel comfortable with your loved one in that facility. If that is the case, don’t be afraid to move them. You are allowed to remove your loved one to a different facility whenever you want.

If you have questions about how a loved one is being treated in a care facility, call RSH Legal at 1-319-774-1542 or visit our website, for more information.

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