Investigating a Report or a Complaint Filed with the Office of Health Facility Complaints
MDH protects the identity of the person making the complaint and the allegedly mistreated patient or resident. Urgent questions of health or safety are investigated within two business days.
- We prioritize the complaints received and make the required “initial disposition” notifications, which means you will be informed in writing whether your complaint will be investigated (for facility self-reports, we will not send those notifications).
- Prioritization will be based on the likelihood of harm, including whether any harm has already taken place.
- This prioritization will impact how quickly an investigator will be assigned.
- Most investigations begin with an on-site visit to the health care facility, where the investigator will observe the location of the incident, watch how care is being provided, interview people who might have knowledge of the issue, and review facility documentation.
- Depending on the facility type and the nature of the allegation, the investigator may review additional documentation and conduct phone interviews after the on-site visit.
- There will be different timelines for the investigation depending on which sets of laws and regulations apply to the incident; some complaints may be resolved in a few days or weeks, while others may take a few months.
- For example, for nursing homes, the triage priorities are set by federal regulations, and some issues will result in an on-site visit within days of MDH receiving the complaint or report. Other types of issues may be investigated later or as part of the next annual inspection of the facility.
- For assisted living facilities, some complaints will be investigated immediately and resolved within a few weeks, and other will be addressed within two to five months.
- For most complaints, the facility will receive federal deficiencies and/or state correction orders for any deficient practices found. This process requires the facility to correct any violations of the applicable standards.
- If the complaint or report is investigated under maltreatment law, there will also be a narrative report, which states whether maltreatment is substantiated, inconclusive, or unsubstantiated.
- The facility, the person who filed the complaint, and the vulnerable adult or their family will receive a copy of this report.
- This report will not identify the vulnerable adult, witnesses, or the alleged perpetrator by name; we are required to protect the identities.
- The report will be shared with law enforcement, medical examiners, criminal prosecutors, and the licensing boards of people involved in the incident (for example, the Board of Nursing if the alleged perpetrator was a nurse). Identities may be disclosed to those agencies.
- The report will also be posted on our website.
- View resolved Office of Health Facility complaints
If you are not satisfied with the results or have additional information that may help support the investigation, you may ask the Office of Health Facility Complaints for additional review.
If maltreatment is substantiated and an individual is responsible for it, the finding will go on their background study and if the maltreatment is found to be serious or recurring, it will cause the person to be disqualified from working in health care and human services for a period of time. The finding will also be placed on the person’s record on the nursing assistant registry, which can impact employment in nursing homes. Finally, in appropriate instances, it will also be referred to licensing boards and to criminal prosecutors, resulting in professional discipline or in criminal charges.
Anytime you are concerned about maltreatment or a possible violation, you have the right to call the Office of Health Facility Complaints.