What Constitutes Nursing Home Abuse and Negligence?

There is probably no more difficult decision for any family to make than to have to place a loved one in a nursing home. It’s tough to trust strangers to care for your family member. Nursing negligence and nursing home abuse is a frightening concept for families who depend on a skilled nursing facility to care for their loved ones.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2014 more than 1.4 million Americans lived in one of America’s 15,600 nursing homes. Nearly one million more lived in an assisted living facility. This number is only expected to grow as the large baby boomer population ages. Statistically, if the percentage of nursing home abuse and neglect remains constant, the number of nursing home abuse and neglect victims will also increase dramatically.

The Definition: Understanding Nursing Home Abuse

The federal regulations governing nursing homes define abuse as “the willful infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation, or punishment with resulting physical harm, pain or mental anguish.” These regulations also state, “The resident has the right to be free from verbal, sexual, physical, and mental abuse, corporal punishment, and involuntary seclusion.” This definition only begins to include the various types of abuse that have been identified in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

Incidents of Nursing Home Abuse

Unfortunately, abuse among nursing home residents is high. In fact, an article published by Reuters in 2013 suggested that as many as 50 percent of all staff members of a nursing home had committed some act toward a patient that could be considered neglect or abuse. Because residents are often isolated from friends and family, there is reason to believe that the actual number of incidents of abuse are higher than the number actually reported.

Types of Nursing Negligence and Abuse

Reporting incidents of elder abuse to local enforcement agencies is also important. An official report ensures your case is followed up on by someone who has experience identifying potential problems in nursing homes and other nursing facilities.

It is important for you to keep an eye on your loved ones in case they show any signs of elder abuse or neglect. Neglect, or lack of care, is as important to identify as actual abuse since a lack of medical attention can be very serious to the health of your loved one. Unfortunately, lack of physical or emotional attention can also be a precursor to other types of abuse including:

  • Physical abuse: Caretakers cause direct pain or injury by depriving residents of their basic needs or threatening them with physical abuse or pain. Physical abuse can also consist of physical or chemical restraints.
  • Emotional abuse: Caretakers commit verbal or nonverbal abuse, which can lead to emotional distress, anguish, and humiliation
  • Sexual abuse: Residents suffer through unwanted sexual contact or are forced to witness a sexual act.
  • Neglect and abandonment: Caretakers desert or refuse basic care to residents.
  • Exploitation: Caretakers or nursing home staff conceal or use a resident’s assets inappropriately. In addition, a new form of exploitation has emerged – exploitation through social media. In these instances, nursing home caretakers may take compromising images or video of nursing home residents and upload images and video online.

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

Some of the signs you should watch for include:

  • unexplained bruises or bleeding,
  • new wounds (particularly bedsores),
  • burns
  • abrasions,
  • psychological changes that could indicate there is some type of abuse going on,
  • unexpected listlessness,
  • unusual behavior, such as infantile behavior,
  • emotional withdrawal, or
  • unexplained outbursts of anger or crying.

Other nursing negligence signs you should watch for might not be as readily evident. These clues include the loss of personal belongings including jewelry, wallets, or other valuables.

Don’t just pay attention to your loved one—staff behavior can change too. Look out for staff who stall you when you are trying to visit, hang around your loved one’s room when you are visiting, or refuse to answer routine questions. Any one of these could be signs of a problem that should warrant your attention.

What Should You Do if Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect is Suspected?

If you have identified nursing negligence or suspect abuse of a loved one in a nursing home or other skilled care facility, contact an administrator and report the problem. Then consider contacting a nursing home abuse and neglect attorney. Even if the facility management or administration agrees to follow up and get back to you, being in contact with an attorney can also be helpful to protect your loved one’s rights.

If you contact me, I can provide direction in terms of other action that should be promptly taken, which may include contacting the police and/or documenting your loved one’s injuries and the circumstances surrounding their harm. There is no charge or obligation for contacting me,

Call For a Free Consultation – Protect Your Loved One

If your loved one’s injuries develop into a legal case, please know that I and my firm represent nursing home abuse and neglect cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning that there is no fee unless a recover it obtained.

When care falls short and results in life-threatening injury, abuse, or wrongful death, the injured and their families need a strong advocate. I and my firm are committed to making a difference by holding corporations accountable for providing essential care, supervision, and safety to nursing home residents.

We represent many types of nursing home and assisted living care abuse or neglect cases: