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Lukas Keapproth / Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism


About this series:

Families’ abilities to hold potentially negligent nursing facilities accountable have been diminished by a recent change in state law that bars records of abuse and neglect from use in the courts, the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism has found. The Center’s investigation also shows that some long-term care facilities are failing to report deaths and injuries, as required by law.

This project, A Frail System, explores those issues and offers families help in identifying which of the state’s nursing homes have been sued or cited for major problems.

MAIN STORY: State records of abuse, neglect in nursing homes barred from use in courts by Wisconsin’s new tort reform law

If you think a loved one has been neglected or abused in a nursing home or assisted living facility:

  • File a complaint with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services Division of Quality Assurance by calling 800-642-6552 or going to
  • Contact the Wisconsin Long Term Care ombudsman’s office at 800-815-0015.
  • Document the full nature and extent of the resident’s injuries and any details about the suspected mistreatment or neglect. If possible, take photos.
  • Ask for a complete set of the resident’s medical records.
  • Ask for a copy of the incident report that the facility prepared after the accident or injury.
  • If there’s a death involved, have a full discussion with the physician or medical examiner.
  • Note the full names of all staff members you’ve spoken with regarding the resident’s care.
  • Contact county-level Adults-at-Risk helplines. For a complete list, visit

The nonprofit Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism ( collaborates with Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Television, other news media and the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication. All works created, published, posted or disseminated by the Center do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of UW-Madison or any of its affiliates.

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