WHAT IS PATIENT ABUSE?
Patients residing in Medicaid
licensed facilities, long-term care facilities and state
licensed group homes, including many nursing homes and mental
health facilities, have special protection under Delaware law.
Because they are often completely dependent upon the care
provided by the facilities, these patients are particularly
vulnerable to abuse and neglect. Abuse includes physical,
sexual and financial crimes committed against a patient by
caregivers. Certain behavior may rise to the level of
emotional abuse, even without any physical contact against the
patient. Criminal neglect may occur when a caregiver fails to
provide any treatment, care or service that is necessary to
maintain the health or safety of the patient.
HOW CAN I SPOT PATIENT ABUSE?
In many cases, an abused or neglected patient is totally
dependent on the offender and is afraid to complain for fear
of reprisal. It is especially important, therefore, that
others watch for warning signs, such as:
1. frequent unexplained injuries or complaints of pain without
obvious injury; bruises or bums suggesting the use of
instruments, cigarettes, etc.; lack of reaction to pain; fear
of being alone with caregivers;
2. sexually transmitted diseases; injury to the genital area;
obvious malnutrition; bedsores and skin lesions; lack of
WHO IS REQUIRED TO REPORT PATIENT ABUSE?
Any employee of a care giving facility or anyone who provides
services to a resident or patient of a long term care facility
is required by law to report suspected abuse or neglect both
orally and in writing to the Division of Long-Term Care
Resident Protection (DLTCRP). The DLTCRP maintains a 24-hour
hotline for such reports at (877) 453-0012.
WHAT HAPPENS TO THOSE SUSPECTED OF PATIENT ABUSE OR
The Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) reviews allegations of
Patient Abuse and neglect and, when appropriate, prosecutes
criminal charges against the offender. Delaware law treats
Patient Abuse very seriously, providing enhanced penalties for
crimes against infirm victims and often allowing infirm
victims to testify without having to go to court. The law also
requires that all cases of Patient Abuse go to the Superior
Court, the main trial court in Delaware.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I SPOT FRAUD OR ABUSE?
If you believe that you have spotted Medicaid Fraud or Patient
Abuse, neglect, mistreatment or financial exploitation, call
the MFCU Wilmington office at (302) 577-8505. Even if you only
have suspicions or have already contacted a state agency, your
information could be important to an ongoing MFCU
investigation. Patient Abuse allegations can also be reported
directly to state or local law enforcement. Remember, we can't
help if we don't hear from you!