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Do you have a complaint to file?

Before filing complaint with the Health Facilities Licensing Bureau, we ask that you carefully read all the information on this page to determine with whom you should file your complaint.  Although our Bureau will receive a complaint against any of our licensed health care facilities, if it is not within our purview of authority, we will refer the complaint to another state agency or local authorities as appropriate.  As such, we encourage you to file your complaint with the appropriate authority to expedite action regarding your concerns.  This page will guide you through the process.

Self Resolution - Attempting to resolve your complaint directly with the facility administrator is the quickest means of getting results to your concerns.  However, if you have exhausted your efforts to resolve the problem without success, the Health Facilities Licensing Bureau will provide you with assistance.

Complaints Concerning Abuse - Abuse is defined as physical, sexual or psychological, or financial exploitation, or neglect or abandonment of a resident, (whether the incident occurred inside or outside of the facility).  Complaints of this nature should be made directly to the Lieutenant Governor's Office on Aging.  Contact information for representative in your area can be found at this link "Report Allegations of Abuse, Neglect or Exploitation (2011/08) (pdf)".  Please note that any complaints of this nature are referred by our Department to the Office on Aging.     

Investigation and Resolution - Investigation and resolution of complaints are a critical Health Facilities Licensing Bureau responsibility.  A complaint is defined as an allegation that relates to a condition, events relative to a licensed activity, or to an activity subject to licensure. The Department is required to investigate any complaint which indicates that there may be a violation of the licensing standards.  The Department cannot always resolve complaints to the satisfaction of all complainants; however, we will investigate the complaint based on the facts, the appropriate regulation(s), and advise you of our findings.  Our complaint inspectors are knowledgeable about the regulations and have access to attorneys who provide legal guidance.  Your complaint will be assigned to a staff member who will determine if the Department can assist you.  An acknowledgement of our receipt of your complaint will be sent to you.  Once an investigation is completed, our office will send you a written report.  Please contact the Department if your complaint is resolved before you hear from us.

Initiating an Investigation - The Health Facilities Licensing Bureau must receive a complaint from an individual before an investigation can be initiated.  The nature of the complaint must be in regards to an expression of discontentment, concern, and/or distress which may involve the conduct of the staff, conditions of the activity, care of the clients, etc., in an activity licensed by the Department.  These expressions of concern could also involve a potentially unlicensed activity which may be operating illegally.  In all instances, there must be an identification of a possible violation of a licensing standard.

Reasonable Expectations - The Department receives a large number of complaints which require varying lengths of time to resolve. Your patience is appreciated and we will contact you as soon as the investigation has concluded.

Anonymous Complaints – Although anonymous complaints are accepted, we have no means of contacting you to acquire any additional information that may be critical to our conducting a thorough investigation and we will be unable to let you know the outcome of our investigation.

Confidentiality Limitations - Please be aware that emails, letters, faxes, and other forms of correspondence sent to the Department, and its employees may be subject to disclosure under the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).  Any individual making a complaint against a licensed activity or provider may do so anonymously.  If a complainant reveals his/her identity and requests confidentiality, the Department will not disclose the complainant's identity unless mandated by state or federal law.

Facility Name and Type – To help us with your complaint, you need to know the name of the facility and the type of healthcare facility that you are concerned about.  A complete listing of our licensed healthcare facilities is located on our website.  If you are still unable to find the name, we will at least need to know the exact location of the facility.  If it is an alleged unlicensed facility, it will not be listed and we will need to know the exact location of the facility. 

Facility Type I Complaints – Click on this Certification Division link to file your complaint if it concerns a:

Ambulatory Surgical Facility
Facility Housing Persons with Intellectual Disabilities (other than a mental institution)
Home Health Agency
Hospice Facility
Hospice Program
Hospital
Nursing Home
Renal Dialysis Facility
Residential Treatment Facility for Children and Adolescents

Any complaints regarding Medicare/Medicaid should also be filed with the Certification Division.  Any complaints that fall under their purview will be referred to this Division by our Bureau. 

Facility Type II Complaints – File your complaint with the Health Facilities Licensing Bureau if it concerns a:

Abortion Clinic
Birthing Center
Body Piercing Facility
Community Residential Care Facility
Day Care Facility for Adults
Facilities that Treat Individuals for Psychoactive Substance Abuse or Dependence
Hearing Aid Specialist
Midwife
Tattoo Facility

Filing a Complaint - There are three ways to file your complaint with the Health Facilities Licensing Bureau:

1. E-mail – This is the most expedient means for our office to handle your complaint.  An e-mail ensures that we have your complaint in writing and provides us with a means whereby we can correspond back to you in a timely manner.  To ensure that we are acquiring the necessary information, please complete the Complaint Form (DHEC Form 0284) and e-mail it to our office as an attachment.  If you have additional supporting documentation, attach those to your e-mail as well.  Our e-mail address is bhfl@dhec.sc.gov.

2. Mail/Fax – Although not as expedient as an e-mail it does ensure that we have your complaint in writing.  To ensure that we are acquiring the necessary information please complete the Complaint Form (DHEC Form 0284).  If you have additional supporting documentation (do not send originals), attach copies to the back of the form and mail it to DHEC, Health Facilities Licensing Bureau, 2600 Bull Street, Columbia, SC, 29201 or fax it to our office at (803) 545-4212. 

3. Telephone – If you are unable to e-mail, mail, or fax your complaint, then call our office at (803) 545-4370 and let the operator know that you wish to file a complaint and she/he will connect you with a complaint intake staff.  If our staff is unavailable, you may leave a voice mail message.  Please be aware that a telephone complaint takes longer to process and there may be a delay in investigating your complaint.  

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