What is Nursing Home Abuse?

Nursing Home Abuse Explained

Sadly, nursing home abuse is common enough that it has become an area of expertise for some attorneys. Nursing home abuse occurs when residents of long-term care facilities suffer physical, emotional, or psychological harm because of the negligent or intentional acts of their caregivers. A nursing home or other long-term care facility can be held liable for nursing home abuse for inadequate care, negligence in screening employees, inadequate supervision of employees, and improper maintenance of the facilities.

The rights of nursing home residents depend on how the facility is regulated. A resident in a facility that participates in the federal Medicare program has the statutory right to be free from verbal, sexual, physical abuse, mental abuse, and the use of restraints for punishment or convenience (restraints may be used for the safety of resident or other residents). Residents of facilities that are not federally regulated have rights under state law.

The main types of nursing home abuse include:

  • Physical Abuse: Hitting, pushing, etc.
  • Mental / Psychological Abuse: Verbal abuse, withholding mail, etc.
  • Neglect: Failure to treat bed sores, infrequent check-ins, etc.
  • Sexual Abuse: Using residents for sexual gratification
  • Exploitation: Manipulating residents to give them money or favors

See Types of Elder Abuse and Signs of Elder Abuse to learn more.

Terms to Know

  • Neglect: A disregard of duty resulting from carelessness, indifference, or willfulness; for example, the failure to provide an elderly nursing home resident with proper nutrition, medical care, or human interaction.
  • Assisted Living: Housing for elderly or disabled people that provides nursing care, housekeeping, and prepared meals as needed.
  • Negligent Hiring: Legal theory in which the employer is held liable for the negligent or intentional acts of its employees (this is common in nursing home abuse cases, since individual employees usually don't have the means to pay damages).

How a Lawyer Can Help with Cases of Nursing Home Abuse

Allegations of nursing home abuse or neglect often are investigated via interviews and medical examinations by an outside agency. The victim typically is provided with help from adult protective services, while the facility may be ordered to make changes. But for repeat offenses or particularly serious offenses, family members or loved ones may still seek to file a lawsuit against the facility.

If you are planning to file a nursing home abuse lawsuit, contact a personal injury lawyer experienced in those types of cases. Check FindLaw's directory of nursing home abuse lawyers to find one in your area.

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