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Q: How do you file a complaint against a nursing home?

A: The complaint should be filed with a division of the Illinois Department of Public Health.

IDPH is also the agency that receives complaints against assisted-living facilities, licensed facilities for people with intellectual disabilities, hospitals, home health agencies, hospice services, dialysis units, outpatient surgery centers, rural health clinics, clinical labs, outpatient physical therapy providers, portable X-ray services, mental health centers, outpatient rehab facilities, free-standing emergency centers, alternative health care providers and HMOs.

Complaints are handled on a priority basis, depending on the severity, and it can take up to 120 days to receive a response, according to IDPH. Also, be aware the agency needs to have enough information to move forward with an investigation, said agency spokeswoman Melaney Arnold.

The kinds of information IDPH needs includes:

— The identities of the patient or resident, the employees involved and any witnesses.

— What happened (or didn’t happen) to the patient or resident, for example, was the patient or resident abused or neglected or the victim of a medication error?

— The date, time and location the incident took place. Include such details as the facility name, address, room number and/or unit.

Complaints can be filed by patients, family members, caregivers, staff members or advocacy groups, and can be made anonymously.

But if you’d like to know the outcome of the investigation, you must provide your name and contact information. The identity of those filing complaints is kept confidential, the agency said.

You can file a complaint with the Central Complaint Agency in the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Office of Health Care Regulation. The form with the address and further instructions can be accessed here:

IDPH also has a central complaint hotline available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at 800-252-4343. If there’s an immediate health or safety risk, call that number, because complaints received in writing by IDPH after 4:30 p.m. on any given day won’t be seen until the next business.

IDPH is just one state agency that receives health-care-related complaints.

Insurance billing issues should go to the Illinois Department of Insurance; health care fraud issues go the Illinois attorney general’s health care fraud unit; and complaints about licensed personnel go to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

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