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Complaint Procedures

June 2018

The Right to Complain Without Reprisal

Residents are guaranteed the right to freely file complaints against nursing homes and their staff.

State and federal agencies are obligated to investigate complaints filed by, or on behalf of, nursing home residents. Complaints regarding nursing home residents, administrators and staff can be filed with the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Department of Social Services (DSS).  Complaints regarding the Connecticut Department of Public Health or about nursing homes can be filed with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). These agencies have the right to fine nursing homes and their staff, to revoke licenses, and to impose other penalties for violations of residents' rights.  Residents can seek assistance in filing complaints from the Connecticut Long Term Care Ombudsman.

Filing Complaints Generally

It is best to file complaints in writing and to keep copies of all correspondence.  Here are some tips for what to include in a complaint letter:

  • Provide very specific information in your complaint as to what occurred, including times and dates when problems occurred when possible, names and addresses of witnesses, etc.
  • If the problem caused the patient to receive medical treatment, provide details and indicate where the medical treatment occurred and the names of any treating doctors.
  • Note whether you made a complaint to the nursing home staff. If so, indicate when and who you talked to and what the response was.
  • Detail what action you want taken.
  • If there are specific laws that you believe are being violated, explain which law and include section numbers for that law.
  • Note whether the problem was an isolated incident or is ongoing and whether it affects more than one resident.
  • If the resident was injured in any way, consider talking to an attorney who specializes in personal injury and/or medical malpractice law.

Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH)

The Department of Public Health (DPH) does not require that health care complaints be filed with any standard form, except for complaints against licensed physicians.  A signed letter is generally sufficient.  If filing a complaint against a physician, call the number directly below to obtain the necessary form or visit DPH.

Complaints regarding nursing homes and other health care facilities should be addressed to:

Facility Licensing and Investigations Section
Connecticut Department of Public Health
410 Capitol Ave., MS# 12 HSR
Hartford, CT 06134-0308
Phone: (860) 509-7400
Fax: (860) 509-7538

Complaints alleging "jeopardy" to a resident are supposed to be investigated within two days. Other complaints are investigated "as time permits" and this may take several months. The Department issues written acknowledgment of complaints and contacts the complainant during the investigation. The complainant also receives a copy of the investigation report. If violations or deficiencies of federal or state law are identified, the nursing home must submit a plan for corrective action. DPH may also order corrective action, impose sanctions including fines, and license suspension or revocation.

Your complaint letter should specify what corrective action you feel needs to be taken, such as requesting a DPH order requiring the home to provide additional staff.  Note:  If you believe the resident is in "jeopardy" of physical or mental harm, state what future harm may occur if immediate corrective action is not taken.

Complaints Regarding nursing home and other health care facility staff

Complaints should be addressed to:

Practitioner Licensing and Investigations Section
Connecticut Department of Public Health
410 Capitol Ave., MS# 12 INV
Hartford, CT 06134-0308
Phone: (860) 509-7552
Fax: (860) 509-7535

DPH licenses nursing home administrators and is authorized to revoke or suspend the licenses of administrators for "illegal, incompetent or negligent conduct in his practice or violation of any provision" of state or federal law or regulation.  See Connecticut General Statutes§ 19a-517. As with complaints against facilities, complaints against administrators should specify the laws and regulations which the administrator violated or allowed to be violated. DPH has the same type of controls over other nursing home staff.

If you are not satisfied with the action taken on your complaint or speed of the investigatory process, you may want to contact other DPH officials:

Deputy Commissioner
(860) 509-7101

Bureau of Regulatory Services Chief
(860) 509-8022

For more information read the Consumer Guide to the Department of Public Health's Investigation and Hearings Process.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is a federal agency that requires every state to continually monitor nursing homes to ensure that they are meeting the requirements of federal law and regulation, including the requirements of the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The Connecticut Department of Public Health is the state agency responsible for surveys of nursing homes, for enforcement of all federal requirements, and for certifying that homes meet the federal standards.

If the DPH is not adequately protecting the rights of nursing home residents through the state process, complaints can be filed with CMS.  Initially, you may want to send copies of your complaints regarding the slow or inadequate action to CMS.

You may write to the CMS office for New England (Region I) at the following address:

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)
John F. Kennedy Federal Building
Room 2325
Boston, MA 02203-0003

Phone: (617) 565-1188

Click here for more CMS information.

Long-Term Care Ombudsman

The Long Term Care Ombudsman is a federally mandated advocate for nursing home assisted living facility and residential care home residents . If a resident needs assistance in filing a complaint with the Department of Public Health or Department of Social Services, the resident may seek assistance from the Office of the Long Term Care Ombudsman.

The LTCO also operates a Volunteer Resident Advocate Program.  Volunteers are trained by Ombudsman staff in resident’s rights, problem solving, interviewing skills, negotiating, working with nursing home staff, and the health care system. They work with the Residents Councils and the Statewide Coalition of Presidents of Residents Councils, an organization of nursing home Resident Council Presidents who, with the assistance of the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program, work together to empower Connecticut’s nursing home residents for stronger and more effective self-advocacy.

Local phone numbers and additional information can be found on the LTCO web site.

These laws can be found at:

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