DC Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

Elder Neglect and Abuse Information in the District of Columbia

Nursing Home and Assisted Living Residents

By Jeffrey J. Downey, Nursing Home Abuse Attorney, handling cases in D.C., Maryland and Virginia

On the web at jeffdowney.com

Email: jdowney@jeffdowney.com

Phone: 703-564-7318 or 703-564-7336

Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect is prevalent and has significant costs to our seniors and society as a whole.  This page discusses what qualifies as abuse or neglect in Washington DC and where to report it. If you or a loved one has been neglected in a nursing home or assisted living facility, consider contacting an elder abuse lawyer or elder neglect attorney before contacting any licensing authority or government agency.  Securing important evidence or taking the proper steps to protect a victim’s rights is critical and often time-sensitive.

An Epidemic Fueled by Poor Regulatory Oversight

Under the District of Columbia, nursing home are regulated under Title 22B, 3233, where a resident of a nursing home in the District is provided an opportunity to file a grievance with the Director of the nursing home, either orally or in writing, concerning any aspect of the resident’s care, treatment or living conditions at the facility.   Nursing homes tend to be the weak link in the healthcare chain, often because our government and public fail to provide the scrutiny needed to keep this industry safe.

The National Center on Elder Abuse conservatively estimates that over two million seniors are abused each year. It is estimated that only 1 in 14 cases of elderly and vulnerable adult abuse is reported.  The District of Columbia’s Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program receives, investigates, and resolves complaints made by or on behalf of long-term care residents.  Risk factors typically involve advanced age, dementia or confusion, social isolation, depression, compromised health, mental health or behavioral problems, substance abuse, intrafamilial conflict and internalization of blame.

Despite healthcare providers in nursing facilities being mandatory reporters, abuse and more commonly neglect is often not reported to investigative agencies.   Residents and their families should be familiar with the definitions for abuse and reporting options, should they experience misconduct first hand. After experiencing an adverse event or injury, the patient should seek legal advice from an experienced elder abuse lawyer before navigating the complex regulatory or civil system.  Jeffrey Downey is an experienced elder neglect attorney handling cases in the District of Columbia. Initial consultations are without charge and most cases are handled on a contingency basis, where you pay no attorney’s fees unless there is a recovery.

The District of Columbia’s Definition of Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation

In the District of Columbia,  abuse, neglect, and exploitation is defined by statute and regulation under DC Code §44-105.09

(a) An assisted living resident (ALR) shall develop and implement policies and procedures prohibiting abuse, neglect, and exploitation of residents.

(b)(1) An ALR, employee of an ALR, or other person who believes that a resident has been subjected to abuse, neglect, or exploitation shall report the alleged abuse, neglect, or exploitation immediately to the assisted living administrator who shall take appropriate action to protect the resident. The ALR shall report any allegation of abuse, neglect, or exploitation brought to its attention to the Mayor and the Adult Protective Services Program, administered by the Family Services Administration of the Department of Human Development.

(2) An ALR or employee of an ALR may be subject to a penalty imposed by the Mayor for failure to report an alleged incident of abuse, neglect, or exploitation pursuant to Chapter 19 of Title 7.

(3) An ALR shall thoroughly investigate any allegation of abuse, neglect, or exploitation and shall take appropriate action to prevent further incidents. The ALR shall report the results of its investigation and actions taken, if any, to the Mayor.

(c) An ALR shall post signs that set forth the reporting requirement of this section conspicuously in the employee and public areas of the ALR.

Abuse includes sexual assault, inflicting pornography, voyeurism, exhibitionism, and other forms of forced sexual activity on an elder or an adult with disabilities. It includes any sexual activity with an adult who is unable to understand or give consent. It includes the control of an adult through the use of threats and intimidation and through the abuse of a relationship of trust.

This definition incorporates both those who are self-neglected, i.e., living under such circumstance that he/she is not able to provide for himself/herself, and those whose need for physical and mental health services are not being provided by another person.

Indicators of neglect include, but are not limited to, malnourishment, dehydration, recent weight loss, presence of bed sores, poor personal hygiene, inadequate and/or dirty clothing, inadequate supervision, extreme filth of person or home, pest infestation, offensive odors, inadequate heat, no fuel, no electricity or untreated physical or mental health problems.

Exploitation of residents or financial abuse is accomplished by the use of covert, subtle and deceitful means. It usually involves a pattern of behavior.

Financial exploitation includes, but is not limited to, the crimes of larceny, embezzlement, theft by false pretenses, burglary, forgery, false impersonation, and extortion. Indicators that a person is being financially exploited may include, but is not limited to:

  • A power of attorney or another legal instrument signed by a demented or confused older person
  • Activity in that adult’s bank account that is uncharacteristic or unusual for that person
  • Abrupt or unusual change in Elder’s title will, or other documents, particularly if the person is confused and/or the documents favor new acquaintances
  • Property, valuables or important documents are missing
  • The elder’s mail has been redirected to a new address
  • Strange individuals are calling the house
  • Credit reports shows recent, unusual activity

Filing a Complaint – Office of Long-Term Care Ombudsman of the District of Columbia

In the District of Columbia, under the regulatory authority of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman of the District of Columbia, when reporting the complaint anonymously, be aware that it is important that person of record who made the complaint keep a written record of what was shared with the DC Department of Health.  

Before you file a complaint alleging abuse or neglect, consider contacting the Law Office of Jeffrey J. Downey to obtain assistance in that process.  

Your complaint needs to be fact specific and limited in time and scope.  If possible, it should be focused on regulatory violations that are verifiable.  

  1. Written – Fill out complaint form (type information into an editable PDF form or print out or
    hand-write your information).  The complaint form to fill out can be found here.
  2. Please submit documentation supporting your complaint with the complaint form when you return it to the DC Office on Aging either by mail or fax. Send the complaint to:

Health Regulation and Licensing Administration – Facility Complaints
899 North Capitol Street, NE
Second Floor
Washington DC 20002

  1. Fax  (202)  442-4924.  Please address your complaint to “Long Term Care Division” 

If you would like to talk to someone please use the following numbers:

Nursing homes and Assisted Living Complaint Hotline – (202) 442-5833
Additional Number (202) 724-8800

While the DC government’s Department of Health has an email address, formal complaints cannot be send this way

You should be advised that the health professional licensing boards do not have jurisdiction over fee disputes, except for billing for services that were not provided.  If you have a fee dispute with a health professional, you can seek redress through the civil courts.  If you have been billed for services you were not provided, please also provide your information to The FBI Washington Field Office at HealthCareFraud.VA@ic.fbi.gov

Questions or Comments?

Call the Law Office of Jeffrey J. Downey, where we regularly handle complaints of elder neglect and nursing home abuse.  Mr. Downey has been an elder neglect attorney handling elder abuse cases involving seniors in nursing homes and assisted living facilities for over 30 years.   All contacts are confidential, and the initial consultation is free.

Jeffrey J. Downey, Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer, handling cases in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia

On the web at jeffdowney.com

Email: jdowney@jeffdowney.com

Address: 8270 Greensboro Drive, Suite 810

McLean, VA  22102

Phone: 703-564-7318 or 703-564-7336

Fax: 703-883-0108

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