What is the Process for Investigating Nursing Home Abuse in Illinois?

In the state of Illinois, any nursing home found to be in violation of nursing home regulations is considered a public nuisance. While this does not sound like a very serious assessment of the horrible crime of nursing home abuse, there is a process in place for investigating such abuse. If you have discovered your loved one is being abused or mistreated by those you placed your trust in, it can be hard to think clearly. You are likely angry and heartbroken at the same time, and, of course, you want to report the abuse immediately.

First and foremost, if you believe your loved one is facing imminent harm, immediately remove him or her from the facility. Next, contact an attorney from the Finn Law Firm and make an appointment to discuss your situation. Attorney Larry Finn will answer your questions, and comprehensively assess the facts of your case, helping you decide what you will do next.

How Does the Illinois Department of Public Health Investigate Reported Cases of Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect?

Under Illinois law, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has the authority to license nursing homes in the state and, therefore, also has the authority to take action when a violation exists. IDPH must begin an investigation within 24 hours of receiving a complaint if that complaint indicates the nursing home resident is in imminent danger, within 7 days when abuse or neglect is alleged, and within 30 days for all other types of complaints. IDPH will not disclose your identity and neither you nor your loved one can be subjected to any type of retaliation (transfer, discharge, etc.) simply because you lodged a complaint.

Once you submit your complaint to IDPH, there will be interviews with your loved one, other residents, and staff members. The inspector will make observations regarding the facility and residents, and there will be a review of nursing home records. If IDPH determines a violation has occurred, a notice will be sent to the nursing home. You may also receive a copy of the notice if you gave your name and contact information to IDPH.

What are the Four Categories of Nursing Home Violations?

There are four levels, or categories of nursing home violations in the state of Illinois, including:

  1. Type AA—The condition or occurrence caused the death of a resident.
  2. Type A—The condition or occurrence creates a significant probability that death or serious mental or physical harm will result or has resulted.
  3. Type B—The condition or occurrence makes it more likely than not that a resident will suffer more than minimal physical or mental harm.
  4. Type C—The condition or occurrence creates a substantial probability that a resident will suffer minimal physical or mental harm.

How Will IDPH Respond to a Nursing Home Violation?

There are four actions that can be taken by the IDPH in response to a finding of a violation in a nursing home. These administrative actions include:

  • The nursing home will be required to follow a plan of correction.
  • The nursing home will be assessed a fine.
  • The nursing home will be placed on “conditional license” status.
  • The nursing home will have its license suspended or revoked.

What if You are Not Happy with IDPH’s Determination?

If IDPH imposed the least stringent action, and you believe the penalties should be more severe, you can appeal the decision by submitting your request in writing within 30 days of the initial determination. IDPH must hold the hearing within 30 days. During this hearing, the nursing home can be compelled to produce records and documents, and nursing home staff can be compelled to testify under oath. You are allowed to participate in this hearing, and you are allowed to have legal representation.

Can the Information from an IDPH Investigation Be Used in a Personal Injury or Wrongful Death Claim?

Your attorney can conduct an independent investigation into the case and may also use much of the information from the IDPH investigation, the violations noted, and the appeal hearing. If you decide that a lawsuit is your best course of action, you must file the claim within two years of the date the injury was discovered, and no later than four years from the date of the injury. A wrongful death claim must be filed within two years of the date of death.

What Happens After a Personal Injury or Wrongful Death Claim is Filed?

After a lawsuit is filed, discovery (a way of formally requesting information) will take place. Medical records, facility records, and any relevant communications among staff members may be requested during discovery. Affidavits or depositions (sworn statements) may be taken during discovery. Your nursing home abuse attorney will send a demand letter to the other parties that request certain actions be taken and/or compensation provided for harm, including medical expenses and pain and suffering. The demand letter will set in motion a series of negotiations that will either result in a settlement or a trial.

How Can the Finn Law Firm Help?

If your loved one has suffered abuse or neglect at the hands of a nursing home employee, Attorney Larry Finn understands the trauma involved. Larry Finn believes you and your loved one deserve justice for the abuse, and we will work hard to ensure you obtain that justice. The Finn Law Firm will offer sound guidance on how to respond to abuse and how to ensure the legal rights and health of your loved ones are properly protected. Contact the Finn Law Firm for an evaluation of your claim today.

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