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Reporting nursing home neglect to DSHS in the state of WA

By Chris WaltonApril 24, 2024May 1st, 2024No Comments
Creating a mental image like that seems concerning. Nursing home neglect is a serious issue that can lead to physical and emotional harm for the elderly residents.

Washington Lawyers for Nursing Home Neglect Litigation and Reporting

If you are concerned about the treatment of a loved one in a nursing home, you should consider reporting the neglect or abuse to the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services. The neglect of seniors in facilities is common and can have devastating consequences. Your report could save a life—it may be important to protect the rights of your loved one by pursuing civil litigation for damages as well. It is important to hold a nursing home accountable for the harm they cause and recover compensation for losses. Call the trustworthy Bellingham, WA nursing home neglect lawyers of Walton Law to determine whether you have a viable claim.

Reporting Nursing Home Neglect

Under Washington law, certain people are designated by law as vulnerable adults. These include those who are:

  •  At least 60 years or older with the mental, physical, or functional   inability to care for themselves
  •  Found incapacitated by law
  •  Possess developmental disabilities
  •  Are admitted to a facility or who receive services from a personal aide   or agencies that are required by chapter 70.127 RCW to be licensed—   including nursing homes.

It’s important to be alert to the possibility of nursing home neglect and abuse. Signs may include bedsores, withdrawal, personality changes, a staff member’s refusal to allow the vulnerable adult to communicate with loved ones, inadequate or delayed medical care, elopement, and unexplained bruises and fractures.

When you see any of these signs of neglect, it can be important to the trajectory of your loved one’s wellbeing to report your concerns by calling the DSHS hotline at 1-800-562-6078. In fact, a report should be made even if you are uncertain whether he or she qualifies as a vulnerable adult. Those who are heavily dependent on caregivers may be more likely to be abused.

Reports can be made online when you suspect neglect or abuse of the elderly at a nursing home, assisted living and enhanced care facility, adult family home, or ICF/IID, or receiving other supported living services. When you lodge the complaint online, you will be provided with a confirmation number, which can be useful to keep track of your case.

The legal principle regarding abuse in nursing homes, accompanied by a signature on the document.The agency should investigate the circumstances around the incident you report, and to determine whether it counts as neglect, or was otherwise preventable, by interviewing witnesses. The agency has ready access to information regarding the goings-on of a nursing home, and while their investigation is not necessarily the last word on whether there was neglect, their actions will create documentation that could be critical to a nursing home neglect lawsuit filed later.

Once you report, or if you are concerned about reporting, you should consult a nursing home neglect lawyer who understands this area of the law, as well, to determine whether other forms of relief, such as litigation to recover damages incurred, are available.

Mandated Reporters

Certain people are mandated reporters required to report abuse. In Washington, this may include social workers, health care workers, law enforcement, mental health professionals and staff in facilities that are licensed, as well as home care and hospices. Abuse is anything that intentionally causes suffering, pain or injury to a vulnerable adult, including the elderly, and it may involve physical, sexual, verbal, physical or financial misconduct.

If you are making a mandated report for a licensed long-term care facility, you will need to complete an online report. Any report made to the Department will be screened by Adult Protective Services or Residential Care Services. APS investigates reports about vulnerable adults, and also provide protective services when needed.

If an elderly person is in immediate danger, however, you should call 911. This call can be anonymous, and you won’t need to supply evidence over the phone. Under RCW 74.34.053, you can face misdemeanor penalties for a false report only where it can be shown you:

(1) Maliciously, intentionally or with bad faith.

(2) Made a false report of neglect, financial exploitation, abuse, or abandonment of a vulnerable adult.

It’s important to report in good faith, while maintaining awareness that your report, whether or not you’re a mandated reporter, can be the difference between life and death for an elder.

Talk to a Washington Elder Abuse and Nursing Home Neglect Lawyer

You should report suspected nursing home neglect or abuse whether or not you’re a mandated reporter. However, you should also be aware that in some instances, greater redress occurs through civil litigation. You should call a seasoned Bellingham personal injury attorney who understands how to pursue damages and hold a facility accountable. For a free and confidential consultation, please call Walton Law directly at (866) 338-7079, or submit your inquiry by completing our online form.