Ask the legal expert ... about responding to abuse allegations

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Attorney John Durso, Ungaretti & Harris LLP
Attorney John Durso, Ungaretti & Harris LLP

A family has accused one of our aides of abuse. We investigated the accusation and determined it's not true, but the family keeps making accusations and wants her arrested. What can we do to protect our employee and ourselves?

Although facility operators want to keep residents' families happy, they should not cede to their demands when the facts do not warrant such action. Here, the facility did the right thing. Federal and state laws require a facility to investigate allegations of resident abuse.  

The facility also might be subject to other laws or requirements: state employment laws, a collective bargaining agreement, or, depending on how the facility proceeds on the family's demands, common law tort actions. 

To protect the facility and the employee, compliance with the law is the safest course to take.

Once the facility is confident it has complied with applicable law, it should tell the resident's family of that fact and of its decision to continue to employ the aide. If the family does not accept the facility's decision, its actions will dictate the facility's further response. 

Should the family's disruption gets to the point of threatening the health, safety, or welfare of the residents or others in the facility, the facility should look to its policies on dealing with disruptive guests and invitees. These policies should have a provision for banning disruptive individuals from the facility. 

Of course, the family might decide to transfer the resident to another facility, but that would under most circumstances be better than facing the repercussions of ceding to their unwarranted demands.