Nursing home abuse awareness is on the rise, and it’s clear that for decades co-residents and staff members have been abusing the elderly in nursing homes. Nursing home abuse is extremely serious, and not something that should ever be downplayed. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happens when families report the abuse to the facility. Should you report the abuse to the facility and make them aware that their staff members or residents are acting out against your loved one? Probably not. In fact, you should go through the following information to identify exactly what you should do. A lawyer who handles nursing home abuse in Columbia, SC can also point you in the right direction.
Reporting Elder Abuse to Authorities
There are a few key people or organizations that you need to report the abuse to. First, always report the abuse to the local authorities. If something seems like an immediate and imminent or life-threatening issue, call 911 without hesitation.
After contacting the police, you need to reach out to Adult Services, or AS. At adult services, they look out for the elderly and those who cannot care for themselves, such as disabled adults. They handle reports and investigations for abuse and neglect. There is a local adult services office in Columbia that you can and should contact. You should also report the abuse to the victim’s doctor.
Doctors are known as “mandated reporters,” and if they had previously noticed the abuse, they should have taken it upon themselves to report it to the authorities. If the doctor is paired with the facility and may have known or helped to coverup the abuse, then you should provide a written statement that is clear, fact-based, and does not include allegations directly against them.
Reporting Elder Abuse to Proper Professional Boards
The professional board that you should report to when it comes to medical abuse or misconduct is the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. This board is the state’s resource for tracking complaints on medical facilities. You can file a complaint with them, as well as with the Lieutenant Governor’s Office on Aging.
You can report the abuse of power, neglect, and carelessness via online, mail, fax, or even by telephone. There are so many avenues to report a doctor or facility to SCDHEC that you have no reason not to.
Make Sure You Document All Instances of Abuse
As soon as you suspect abuse, you need to ensure that you’re properly documenting everything. Take pictures, statements, and record the dates that you file official reports of abuse. During this time, you may have to work with a wide variety of people, including the police, as different authorities may have different investigations.
For example, Columbia PD and the SCDHEC may both have a separate investigation. Be sure that you record dates and details for everything because anything could tip the balance of your case later.
When to Hire an Attorney Who Handles Nursing Home Abuse in Columbia, SC
If you “jump the gun,” you may have an attorney before you have a case. What you need to do is ensure that you’ve properly reported every suspicion of abuse and informed Columbia authorities, as well as your local office for adult services. When you reach out to the proper authorities, you are doing your best to protect your family member or relative who is in the nursing home.
However, you should contact an attorney right after you alert the authorities. The case may be open for a long time or much longer than you expected. However, there are always limits when it comes to filing a lawsuit against someone for negligence and abuse. The statute of limitations maybe a few years, but it always starts at the time of the abuse, so it is better to act swiftly.
Should You Pursue A Case Against The Responsible Parties?
When building a case of abuse, you’ll go through the degrees and evidence to identify both carelessness, neglect, and outright intentional abuse. For Columbia residents, it’s imperative that you get in touch with a well-experienced attorney. Not only can you go through the function of handling your case, but you’ll be looking at the bigger element of exposing undisclosed information from the facility.
Often it is not a single case of abuse, and while you may only be concerned about your family member, this one case could expose a pattern of abuse. Contact our nursing home abuse law firm in Columbia to start going through the setup of your case and exploring what options you have to protect your loved one.