If you suspect nursing home abuse, neglect, or exploitation in the state of Kentucky, reporting it is not only the right thing to do—it’s the law. But what happens after nursing home abuse is reported? We’ll talk more in this article about Kentucky’s mandatory reporting laws, how to make a report if you suspect elder abuse, and what happens once a report is made. If you have further questions, contact a nursing home abuse lawyer from our firm who protects the rights of nursing home residents in Kentucky.
How Do I Report Nursing Home Abuse in Kentucky?
Because Kentucky is a mandatory reporting state, it’s important to know how to report suspected abuse or neglect in KY. The Elder Abuse division of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) states that those who suspect elder abuse are legally required to report it to the proper authorities. This can be done online or over the phone, and reports may be made anonymously. Suspected nursing home abuse in Kentucky should be reported by contacting:
- Kentucky Adult Protective Services. To report abuse, neglect, or exploitation, contact Adult Protective Services, part of the Kentucky Department for Community Based Services (DCBS). This will prompt an investigation. You can either make a report online or by calling 1-877-597-2331. In emergency situations, dial 911.
Other state agencies are available to provide assistance, guidance, and protection when nursing home elder abuse is suspected. The following resources can help those looking for ways to help seniors in Kentucky stay safe from abuse or neglect.
- Kentucky Office of the Attorney General’s Abuse Tip Line. Suspected abuse reports can be made to the Office of the Attorney General at 1-877-ABUSE-TIP (1-877-228-7384).
- Kentucky Office of the Inspector General. The Inspector General’s Office is responsible for regulating and licensing nursing homes and long-term care facilities in the state. The office can be reached at 1-502-564-7963.
- Kentucky Long-Term Care Ombudsman (LTCO) Program. Kentucky’s LTCO program advocates for nursing home residents, working to improve standards of care, helping to resolve disputes, and defending seniors from harmful situations. You can find your program by geographical area online or by calling 1-859-277-9215.
What Happens After Abuse Is Reported?
Kentucky’s Office of the Attorney General advises that it is critical to immediately make a report as soon as you suspect abuse or neglect. Try to document as much specific information as you can that will help investigators. This may also include taking pictures or videos of the environment, injuries, the incident itself, or other evidence that documents the incident. Try to be as specific as possible when making a report. This may include:
- The name and age (if known) of the victim
- Your relationship to the victim
- The name of the facility, address, and location where the incident(s) took place
- The name and contact information of any eyewitnesses
- The date and time of the incident(s)
- A detailed description of the incident and any injuries
- If known, the name of the suspected abuser
- Any photographs or videos you were able to obtain
- Any other helpful information you can provide
Once a report of suspected elder abuse or neglect is filed, the process of reviewing the incident(s) will begin. If you made the report on behalf of a family member, friend, or loved one, it’s important that you stay involved in the process. Keep a file with all relevant information, including the dates, times, and outcomes of all of your follow-up conversations with the agency (or agencies) where you reported the suspected abuse. Because of laws and policies, not every agency will be able to provide you with all the details of the investigation. But it’s still helpful to make record of your contact with the agency and what they were able to tell you. All of this information is important and should be shared with your nursing home abuse lawyer.
Although each case will proceed differently—and on a different timeline—depending on the circumstances, you can generally expect that the following actions will happen after an abuse report is received:
- Review and Screening. This initial step means assessing and recording the details of the report within the agency. The agency may cross-check your report against other complaints filed against the same nursing home. At this point, the report may be screened out (usually due to false or missing information), or screened in, prompting further investigation.
- Investigation and Interviews. Usually, a caseworker is assigned at this stage. Their role is to investigate the suspected abuse and communicate with parties involved. They may need to review records, make site visits, and conduct interviews. They will need to contact the nursing home resident. Other parties such as witnesses listed in the report may be interviewed as well.
- Decision. The agency will then decide whether or not to take further action, based on the results of the investigation and interviews. If there was no or insufficient evidence of abuse or neglect, the agency may decide to take no further action. But if abuse or neglect is suspected, action will be taken to protect the victim.
- Action. When there is evidence to suggest that a nursing home resident is being abused or neglected, the agency will usually prevent contact between the abuser and victim, create and discuss a care plan with the victim and in some cases family members, and obtain the consent of the victim to initiate the care plan. In some situations, law enforcement officers may need to be contacted to make an arrest.
Do Nursing Homes Ever Try to Cover Up Abuse?
It’s not uncommon for nursing home administration or staff members to hide or destroy evidence of wrongdoing on their facilities. In some cases, the cover up is intentional, done to obscure proof of resident abuse or neglect. In other cases, careless, negligent, or non-existent bookkeeping and recordkeeping can lead to a lack of essential documentation when investigating reports or abuse, neglect, or exploitation.
Every nursing home is legally required to maintain timely and accurate documentation of a resident’s care and condition. When administering any treatment, it must be noted in the patient’s record. Nursing home residents, and often one or more designated family member, may request to see documentation and records of treatment. If a nursing home refuses to provide this information, the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office recommends that you make note of who refused the request, when and where it was refused, and what reason (if any) was given for the refusal. By law, the family cannot totally be denied access to the records. If medical records are incomplete or missing, you can file a report with the Office of the Inspector General at 502-564-7963.
If a nursing home’s management or staff makes efforts to hide evidence of abuse or neglect, a Kentucky nursing home abuse lawyer can advocate for your family. These situations, already tragic and difficult for a family to bear, can become extremely complicated. If your family is in need of representation, we invite you to reach out to the Law Office of Todd Burris for experienced, compassionate legal guidance. We’ll begin by scheduling a meeting to discuss your legal options and how we may be able to help.