When a person has very serious concerns that a nursing home resident has been subject to abuse or neglect in the home, a complaint may be filed with the state. The California Department of Public Health (DPH) licenses and certifies all nursing homes in California, and maintains a process for investigating all complaints made against nursing homes.
The process of filing a complaint with the DPH is fairly straightforward, and the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform have summarized it nicely:
1. Who Can File a Complaint? Any person, or even an organization, can file a complaint about nursing home neglect with the DPH. While it is usually a family member, it doesn’t have to be.
2. When Should a Complaint be Made? Typically complaints are made after other measures to resolve the issue have failed. In cases of suspected abuse or neglect, it’s best to file the complaint as soon as possible.
3. Where Do I File a Complaint? DPH complaints should be filed with the nearest DPH office, usually in your county. Click here for a list of DPH office numbers for all Southern California counties.
4. What Should I Say? Focus on the important issues. For example, if the resident has suffered numerous falls and been injured, but you also have been unhappy with room cleanliness, it’s best to focus on the falls and injury. You can always discuss the room cleanliness issues later. The DPH gets many call of complaints against nursing homes, you want them to take yours seriously.
5. What Happens After I Make My Complaint? Under California Law, the DPH must commence an onsite investigation of the complaint with 10 working days from the date the complaint is made. After the visit, follow up investigation may be conducted, such as interviewing witnesses. The complaints are usually completed within 60 days, at which time you will receive written notice of the DPH findings.
6. Do I Need a Lawyer? It depends. If the complaint involves serious allegations of abuse or neglect, then contacting a nursing home abuse or neglect attorney might be a good idea. We frequently say that any unexpected injury, illness, or death could be a sign of neglect, and consulting an experienced attorney in California nursing home law might be a good idea.
The nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys at the Walton Law Firm LLP represent seniors and dependent adults who have been victims of physical or sexual abuse in the nursing home, and those who have been neglected or received substandard care. Call (866) 607-1325 for a free and confidential consultation.