There are over 100,000 Illinois residents living in the state’s 1,200 or so long-term care facilities. And every year, the Illinois Department of Health (IDPH) receives thousands of complaints from patients and their family members. Both the federal and Illinois governments regulate the operation of long-term care facilities such as nursing homes. When a nursing home fails to comply with these regulations, they may be fined or forced to shut down. IDPH conducts yearly inspections of facilities, and also takes action on the basis of complaints.
If you or a loved one is facing abuse or substandard treatment in a nursing home, your actions can prevent further harm from occurring. The process of filing a complaint is straightforward and will lead to an investigation and possible sanctions against the long-term care facility. If a nursing home incident results in pain, suffering, additional medical treatment, or death, you or your loved one may be entitled to compensation.
The Process for Filing a Nursing Home Complaint
Illinois nursing homes are regulated by the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Bureau of Long-term Care. The agency’s primary responsibility is to ensure that nursing homes comply with the Nursing Home Care Act when it comes to patient rights, infection control, and missteps that could harm patients.
If you believe that you or a loved one has been harmed by a nursing home’s failure to comply with the Nursing Home Care Act, you can file a complaint by:
- Calling the nursing home hotline at 1(800)-252-4343, or 1(800)-547-0466 for the hearing impaired
- Sending a health care facilities complaint 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
- Faxing a health care facilities complaint form to (217)-524-8885
If you want your complaint to have an impact, you should give IDPH the tools to understand and act on your allegations. Therefore, you should include the following information in your complaint:
- Who–List which patients and which employees were involved
- What–Describe the allegations accurately
- When–Provide a timeline of the incident
- Where–Give the location of the facility and the particular unit or room where the incident occurred
- How–Describe the harm received, and how the facility responded
Some people fail to report nursing home abuse because of fear of reprisals. But IDPH does not disclose the identity of complainants to health care facilities. If you still are worried about retaliation, you may file a complaint anonymously, but in this case you will not be able to follow the progress of your complaint and its eventual outcome.
What Happens After I File My Complaint?
Upon receiving your complaint, IDPH will schedule an inspection–called survey–of the facility. The survey will enable public health officials to corroborate your complaint by viewing the facilities and interviewing staff and residents.
If the survey team concludes that the nursing home violated regulations, IDPH will issue a notice of deficiency. In response to the notice of deficiency, the nursing home may do either of the following:
- Submit a plan of correction–This describes the steps being taken to address the incident and to prevent further incidents from occurring. Often times, the plan of correction will involve the training or termination of staff who were involved in the incident.
- Dispute the survey findings–If the nursing home successfully proves that the incident didn’t occur, or that the survey team did not properly investigate, IDPH will withdraw the notice of deficiency. But if the nursing home fails to prove its side of the story, it will receive fines, and in the most serious cases, possible closure.
The complaint process does not result in the victim getting compensation for their mistreatment. You can only get compensation from the facility by issuing a demand letter or initiating a lawsuit. But logging a complaint is an excellent way to get the proof you need to substantiate your accusations against the nursing home. Your lawyer may be able to obtain the survey team’s interview notes, which will contain crucial evidence for building the case against the nursing home.
If you or a loved one has been harmed in a long-term care facility, Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. can help. Our Chicago nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers can assist you in filing a complaint with the Department of Public Health, and then fight on your behalf to get you the compensation you deserve.
If you want to hold a nursing home accountable for its actions, call us today at (312) 236-2900 for a free case consultation.