If you notice something wrong about the care you or your loved one is receiving at a nursing home, you may need to file a nursing home complaint. The process in Illinois is simple. It’s also a good first step if you think you want to take legal action to protect nursing home residents from any abuse or neglect.
In This Article:
- Who Regulates Nursing Homes?
- Common Nursing Home Complaints
- Growing Risks In Illinois Nursing Homes
- How to File a Nursing Home Complaint
- What Happens Following a Nursing Home Complaint?
- When to Contact A Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
Who Regulates Nursing Homes?
Nursing homes provide an important social service which is to take care of the elderly and other disabled people in our society. Members of these protected classes deserve the best care and for that to happen, there must be oversight to ensure their safety and prevent abuse.
In Illinois, nursing homes are inspected, licensed, and regulated by several agencies at both the state and federal levels. They include the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The IDPH is responsible for enforcing compliance with mandatory state regulations. They conduct on-site licensure inspections of nursing homes called surveys to evaluate the adequacy of the nursing home. This includes the staff, equipment, procedures, policies, and finances of each institution. The IDPH also responds to approximately 6,000 nursing home complaints per year.
While there may be some overlap, the two agencies have separate jurisdictions. The CMS is self-explanatory as it provides health care coverage through Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program,
Growing Risks In Illinois Nursing Homes
Even with the oversight of IDPH and CMS, issues within the system remain putting nursing home residents at risk for abuse, neglect, and other forms of mistreatment. The increasing risk for Illinois nursing home residents can be attributed to several factors:
Rapid Growth of Senior Population. Illinois is experiencing a faster growth rate in its senior population compared to other age groups putting a strain on the existing healthcare infrastructure, particularly in nursing homes.
Understaffing in Nursing Homes. With over 1,000 nursing homes in Illinois, many of these facilities are reportedly understaffed. The well-being of residents may be compromised when healthcare providers are fatigued and overworked.
Restrictions on Out-of-State Nurses. Illinois is one of the few states in the region that does not permit nurses from other states to work under their own state’s license. This restriction complicates the process of hiring qualified nursing staff from outside the state. The limited pool of available healthcare professionals exacerbates the staffing challenges faced by nursing homes in Illinois.
Addressing these issues is crucial for ensuring the well-being and quality of care for elderly residents in Illinois nursing homes. The hope is that by filing complaints and making these issues clear, legislators and government agencies will do more to resolve the systemic issues that exist.
Common Nursing Home Complaints
Nursing home residents often have ongoing medical needs requiring constant supervision. When a nursing home is not complying with health and safety regulations, a whole myriad of problems can occur. Some of the most common complaints in Illinois nursing homes include:
- Decubitus ulcers, bed sores, and pressure sores
- Refusal to bill Medicare
- Malnutrition, dehydration, or choking
- Excessive use of feeding tubes
- Medication errors
- Clogged/mishandled breathing tubes
- Forcing residents to give up legal rights
- Physical, sexual, or verbal abuse
- Discrimination against residents
- Mistreating residents with dementia and Alzheimer’s
- Threatening to refuse medical treatment
- Improper administration of sedatives and other behavior-modifying medication
- Wrongful eviction
- Refusal to accept Medicaid
- Unexplained falls or injuries
Nursing home complaints are not limited to this list. If something does not seem right to you about how your loved one is being treated, speak up about it. If you are unsure what steps to take, you may consider speaking to an attorney to understand your legal options to help keep them safe.
How to File A Complaint
If you have noticed signs of abuse, neglect, or any other illegal activity at a nursing home, here’s how to file a nursing home complaint in Illinois with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH).
To report signs of nursing home abuse or neglect, call the IDPH’s Nursing Home Hotline at 800-252-4343 (voice), or 800-547-0466 (TTY). The line is staffed 24/7, so you can reach out as soon as you see anything that does not seem right.
Another way to file a nursing home complaint is by completing a Health Care Facilities Complaint Form. You can mail, fax, or email the form using the following information:
Mail form to:
Illinois Department of Public Health
Office of Health Care Regulation
Central Complaint Registry
525 W. Jefferson St., Ground Floor
Springfield, IL 62761-0001
Fax form to: 217-524-8885
E-Mail form to: DPH.CCR@illinois.gov
If you have become aware of any criminal activity in a nursing home, then you should contact your local police station’s non-emergency line. However, if you believe nursing home residents are in imminent danger, then call 911 right away.
What Happens Following A Nursing Home Complaint
After filing a nursing home complaint, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) initiates a comprehensive inspection, referred to as a survey, to investigate the details outlined in the complaint. This process involves checking the facilities, interviewing both residents and staff members, and thoroughly examining the reported concerns. The outcomes of this survey play a pivotal role in determining the subsequent actions taken by the IDPH:
1) Deficiency Notice Issued
If the survey team identifies violations of regulations during the inspection, the IDPH issues a deficiency notice to the nursing home outlining specific areas where the facility has fallen short of compliance.
2) Plan of Correction Submitted
Upon receiving the deficiency notice, the nursing home is required to submit a plan of correction within 10 days. This plan should provide detailed steps on how the facility intends to address the identified issues and prevent their recurrence. Measures may include terminating staff involved and re-training remaining personnel.
3) Contesting Findings
The nursing home has the option to contest the survey findings. If they can demonstrate that the survey team did not conduct a proper investigation, they may succeed in having the deficiency notice retracted. However, if the nursing home fails to justify its position, it may face penalties.
4) Penalties and Corrective Actions
Penalties for deficiencies can range from monetary fines to more severe consequences. Monetary fines may amount to $10,000 for each violation, and violations of federal standards can result in fines ranging from $50 to $10,000 per day. Repeat offenders may risk losing Medicaid or Medicare certification, and in extreme cases, a nursing home may face closure if the situation is deemed serious enough.
Nursing homes must address deficiencies promptly and effectively to ensure the well-being and safety of residents. Seeking legal assistance may be beneficial for individuals filing a nursing home complaint, as attorneys can guide them through the process and help handle claims successfully.
When to Contact a Chicago Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
Nursing home residents deserve protection and any sign of wrongdoing should be swiftly addressed by filing a complaint. In a perfect world, the work of the IDPH and CMS would be enough to make right the mistreatment of nursing home residents. Unfortunately, this is not a perfect world, and even when a survey is complete and corrective actions are taken, it may not do much to compensate for any damages or loss endured by you or your loved one.
This is where contacting a nursing home abuse lawyer may be the best course of action, especially if you feel a legitimate complaint goes ignored. An attorney can help gather information, collect evidence, and obtain fair compensation for damages caused by nursing home abuse or neglect. At Disparti Law Group Accident & Injury Lawyers, we are prepared to hold nursing homes accountable for any harm they may have caused their residents entrusted under their care.
Don’t wait until it’s too late. For a FREE consultation, contact us today by calling (312) 600-6000 and find out why thousands say… Larry wins!