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Abuse, Neglect and Patient Rights

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Advocacy Issues

Disability Rights Wisconsin (DRW) works to end abuse, neglect and denial of the legal rights of people with disabilities regardless of where they live. People with disabilities in Wisconsin may face abuse and neglect in institutions, in schools, in residential settings, in correctional facilities and in the community. The types of abuse and neglect which Disability Rights Wisconsin strives to end include:

  • Inappropriate seclusion and restraint
  • Inappropriate use of force by staff or providers
  • Threats, harassment or retaliation by staff or providers
  • Failure to provide adequate nutrition, clothing, or medical and mental health care
  • Failure to provide a clean and safe living environment, and
  • Other issues which pose a serious threat to the physical and psychological well-being of a person with a disability.

Violations of patient rights can include failure to obtain informed consent for treatment, failure to maintain the confidentiality of treatment records, inappropriate restriction of the right to communicate and associate with others, and other severe restrictions of rights.

Advocacy Strategies

DRW provides information, referral, advice, investigation, and, in select cases, legal representation to people with disabilities in Wisconsin who experience disability-related abuse or neglect. DRW also advocates at systems and policy levels to reduce abuse, neglect and rights violations and to ensure that existing systems meet their responsibilities to do the same. Special emphasis is placed on cases addressing inappropriate seclusion and restraint, a failure to provide medical care that results in a significant threat to health or life, and other instances of abuse and neglect which create a risk of serious harm.