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Proposed Law Would Ban Anonymous Nursing Home Complaints

Posted On April 29, 2016
A new law was proposed by an Illinois lawmaker that would prohibit anonymous parties from reporting nursing home abuse or neglect. Supported by nursing home lobbying groups, proponents suggest that the law would cut down on false complaints.

How Common are False Complaints?

Of the 5,600 Illinois nursing home complaints made in 2015, around 20 percent were filed anonymously. Thirty one percent of the anonymous complaints were deemed valid, while about 39 percent of non-anonymous cases were substantiated.
Currently, several entities in Illinois accept reports of suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation of nursing home patients. Many use the State’s nursing home hotline. Follow-up inspections occur whether the reporter is known or anonymous. The families of victims may also contact a nursing home abuse lawyer in Chicago for information regarding compensation.

Arguments For and Against a Change in the Law

Supporters of the proposed law believe that people who complain should be required to leave their contact information. In doing so, they say that investigators of nursing home abuse can make determinations faster. The Illinois Department of Health would be required to keep identifying information confidential.
The bill would also require that those complaining be informed of potential criminal sanctions resulting from filing a false report. Advocates of nursing home workers and others who oppose the proposed law fear that even though criminal cases brought on by falsely reporting are currently a possibility, hearing this disclaimer will intimidate those already nervous about filing a legitimate complaint.
Many share concerns that fear of retaliation against loved ones in nursing homes, or themselves, will keep people from coming forward, if the bill is passed. Even if information is kept confidential by the Department of Health, they believe that this prevents true protection for those concerned about the safety of those that they care for.
The Illinois Department of Health has taken a neutral stance. Several advocacy groups and unions, however, openly oppose the bill and point out that most states allow, and even encourage anonymous callers to report suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation in nursing homes. Others point out that even if anonymous reports are no longer allowed, that will not stop those who do not want their contact information known from providing fake names and addresses.

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