What Is Considered Nursing Home Neglect?
Nursing home neglect occurs when facilities like nursing homes or assisted living facilities fail to provide basic necessities — such as food, water, hygiene, and medical care — to their residents.
This lack of care may be unintentional, but it’s often considered negligence or even criminal behavior.
Examples of nursing home negligence include:
- Disregarding necessary medical or dental care
- Failing to maintain personal hygiene by not changing clothes or bedding
- Leaving a resident with mobility issues unattended for long periods
- Neglecting to administer prescribed medications correctly and on time
- Not responding to medical needs promptly
- Overlooking signs of illnesses or infections
The impact of nursing home negligence is severe, leading to physical harm, illness, and in extreme cases, death.
For this reason, it’s important to understand that nursing home neglect is a form of nursing home abuse.
If you or a loved one has suffered at the hands of a negligent nursing home, take action without delay. Nursing homes exist to keep residents safe. Don’t stay quiet. Get a free case review right now.
How Common Is Neglect in Nursing Homes?
Unfortunately, nursing home neglect is common in the U.S. According to federal long-term care data, there are about 200,000 complaints per year initiated by nursing home residents, their families, and other concerned individuals.
Additionally, evidence shows neglect and abuse significantly increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rates of nursing home abuse and neglect may have increased by up to 84% during the pandemic, according to a study in The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.
If you or a loved one have been the victim of nursing home neglect, finding a nursing home negligence attorney may be your best path forward. Skilled nursing home lawyers can talk with you in confidence about what rights your family may have.
Risk Factors for Nursing Home Neglect
Knowing the red flags for potential nursing home neglect is your best defense to protecting your loved one. Learn about some common risk factors that could mean a nursing home will put your loved one in harm’s way.
Lack of Oversight for Nursing Homes
Nursing homes that lack oversight are more likely to commit nursing home negligence. This is because there are not enough registered nurses or skilled health care professionals to ensure residents are getting the care they need.
For example, if a nursing home only has one registered nurse per floor when there should be two, staff may fail to provide the quality of care required to keep residents safe and healthy.
They may be unable to reposition immobile residents as much as they should. As a result, frail residents have a higher chance of developing bedsores that can quickly worsen and become infected.
Lack of Training for Staff Members
In many nursing homes, staff members are inadequately trained to care for residents. This can put residents at increased risk for neglect and harm.
For instance, staff who have not been trained to administer drugs may make medication errors, leading to severe illness, serious injury, and even death.
Poor Pay for Nursing Home Staff
Unfortunately, nursing home staff often have lower salaries than other jobs in the health care industry. This can lead to a high turnover rate.
Since keeping qualified staff onboard is so difficult, many nursing homes end up with underskilled and unqualified employees providing lifesaving care.
Understaffing is one of the main causes of nursing home abuse. It happens when there aren’t enough employees available to care for residents.
In recent years, many nursing homes have become understaffed due to:
- Intentional cutbacks to save on hiring expenses
- Lack of job seekers
- Low pay
With understaffing, the remaining nursing home employees are often overworked and stressed, which means they are more likely to make mistakes.
Additionally, the more stressed employees are, the more likely they are to get burnt out and engage in different types of abuse and neglect.
No matter what the reason, nursing home neglect is never acceptable.
If you or a loved one were harmed, the team at LawFirm.com is here to help 24/7.
Contact us at (888) 726-9160 right now.
Types of Nursing Home Neglect
There are several types of nursing home neglect. Here are some of the most common.
Medical neglect (medical malpractice) happens when nursing home staff fail to meet a resident’s health care needs.
Examples of medical neglect in nursing homes include:
- Failing to administer drugs and medications as prescribed
- Failing to provide appropriate medical care for existing health conditions like diabetes or dementia
- Failing to regularly reposition immobile or physically disabled residents resulting in stage 4 bedsores
- Neglecting to identify and treat newly developed illnesses and infections promptly
Neglect of Basic Needs
Neglect of basic needs happens when nursing home staff fails to give residents a minimal level of care.
Examples of neglecting basic needs include:
- Failing to clean resident rooms and common areas regularly
- Neglecting to maintain a comfortable temperature in the nursing home, such as not using heaters in winter or air conditioning in summer to cut costs
- Providing insufficient food and water to residents
Neglect of Personal Care Needs
Many cognitively and physically impaired residents need help with personal care. Neglecting personal care needs can lead to life-threatening consequences, such as infectious diseases.
Examples of neglect of personal care needs include:
- Neglecting to bathe residents properly or regularly
- Failing to change residents’ bedding or clothing as needed
- Neglecting to conduct regular checks on residents’ mental and physical health
It’s important to remember that poor hygiene is a red flag for nursing home neglect.
Social and Emotional Neglect
Nursing homes should provide residents with opportunities to socialize. Regular social interactions and activities can significantly improve mental health, while isolation is known to take a severe toll on the emotional well-being of older adults.
If nursing homes do not create opportunities, or even prevent residents from socializing, they could be committing nursing home negligence.
Social neglect includes:
- Failing to escort residents with cognitive or mobility issues to community areas
- Neglecting to provide mobility aids such as wheelchairs, canes, and walkers to residents, leading to isolation
- Not arranging social activities for residents
Warning Signs of Nursing Home Neglect
Depending on the type of neglect they suffered, residents may show various warning signs of nursing home abuse and neglect.
Here are common signs and symptoms of nursing home neglect:
- Bedsores (also known as pressure sores or pressure ulcers)
- Broken bones, bruises, and burns
- Falls that could have been prevented
- Malnutrition and dehydration
- Significant personality changes, such as being withdrawn or extremely angry
- Sleep disturbances
- Unexplained bruises and injuries
- Untreated or new medical conditions
Warning signs can be hard to detect, especially if residents have Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. These conditions often prevent victims from reporting abuse or neglect.
An experienced nursing home negligence attorney can help you determine if your loved one is showing signs of neglect and take legal action on their behalf. Find out if LawFirm.com can connect you right now.
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Are Nursing Homes Liable for Neglect of Residents?
Yes, nursing homes and staff can be held liable for the neglect of residents.
Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are responsible for:
- Helping residents dress, bathe, eat, and use the toilet
- Hiring qualified individuals and training them to provide quality care
- Identifying and treating illnesses and injuries
- Keeping the property clean and safe
- Offering opportunities for residents to socialize
- Providing proper nutrition and hydration
- Staffing enough employees to care for all residents
If a nursing home or staff member fails to meet residents’ needs, causing injury or illness, victims and family members may be able to file a nursing home abuse lawsuit and get justice.
Reporting Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse
If you or a loved one witnessed or suffered nursing home neglect or abuse, report the incident as soon as possible. Consider taking these steps.
1. Contact Adult Protective Services or Law Enforcement
First, contact Adult Protective Services (APS) or law enforcement. APS provides social services to neglected, abused, or exploited older adults and adults with cognitive and physical disabilities.
APS and law enforcement can quickly get victims of nursing home negligence out of an abusive situation. This prevents any potential injuries or illnesses from worsening and allows victims to get the medical care they may need.
2. Reach Out to a Nursing Home Ombudsman
You can also reach out to a nursing home ombudsman or long-term care (LTC) ombudsman.
To find your nursing home ombudsman, visit your state’s official long-term care website or inquire at local health centers or senior care groups.
A nursing home ombudsman handles and investigates complaints against nursing homes and long-term care facilities. They can help resolve complaints that residents and their loved ones have.
A nursing home ombudsman handles the following types of complaints:
- Equipment functionality, safety, and facility cleanliness
- Food quality, variety, quantity, and choice availability
- Medication management and administration
- Resident quality of life, including conflict resolution among residents
- Staff demeanor and respect toward residents
- Unlawful eviction procedures
Long-term care ombudsman programs are available across all 50 states, as well as in Guam, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia.
3. Talk With a Social Worker
Nursing homes often have social workers on staff. Social workers work with residents, families, communities, and groups to improve collective and individual well-being.
They can evaluate situations, needs, strengths, and support networks to adjust to challenges and changes in their lives, including illness and injury caused by neglect and abuse.
4. Consult a Nursing Home Neglect Law Firm
For many families, the best and only option is to work with a nursing home neglect law firm. Depending on the facts of your case, you may be eligible for a nursing home neglect or abuse lawsuit.
An experienced nursing home attorney can also help you properly report nursing home neglect or abuse to get your loved one to safety without delay.
If you are eligible, a skilled lawyer can help you gather evidence, build a case, file your lawsuit before any deadlines, and negotiate for maximum compensation. Your lawyer can also take your case to court if necessary.
Filing a Nursing Home Neglect Lawsuit
Nursing home neglect cases hold nursing homes and nursing home staff responsible for the harm they have caused. If your lawsuit is successful, you and your family may recover compensation for the injuries, costs, and other losses incurred as a result of nursing home negligence or abuse.
Compensation often comes from a nursing home settlement.
To prove a nursing home or staff member was negligent, you must have evidence proving the physical, financial, and emotional losses.
Typical forms of evidence for nursing home lawsuits include:
- Audio recordings or written notes of conversations
- Copies of signed nursing home agreements and forms
- Documentation verifying your or your loved one’s relationship to the nursing home and staff members
- Insurance claim documentation
- Medical records and billing statements
- Visual evidence such as photographs and videos
Working with a skilled nursing home neglect lawyer is the best way to build a strong case and get the help you need.
Get Legal Help for Nursing Home Neglect
Nursing homes are responsible for providing all residents with the care they need. If a nursing home or staff member failed to provide sufficient care, they should be held accountable.
Our legal partners have secured more than $256 million for families affected by nursing home neglect and abuse. We can help families in all 50 states and never charge upfront fees.
Nursing Home Neglect FAQs
Can I sue a nursing home for neglect?
Yes, you have the right to pursue legal action against a nursing home for neglect.
A successful nursing home lawsuit can provide compensation for any harm experienced and also work towards ensuring that the standard of care is improved for all residents in the facility.
Taking legal action can be a step towards righting wrongs and preventing future neglect.
What is the most common mistreatment in nursing homes?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the most common mistreatment in nursing homes is psychological or emotional abuse. Psychological abuse happens when someone threatens or tries to control nursing home residents.
How do I report nursing home neglect?
You can report nursing home neglect by:
- Contacting Adult Protective Services (APS) or law enforcement
- Calling a nursing home ombudsman
- Talking to a social worker
- Consulting a nursing home neglect lawyer or attorney
Do I need a lawyer to sue for neglect in a nursing home?
Yes, it is highly recommended that you hire a nursing home abuse attorney to sue for nursing home neglect.
If you and your family members sue for neglect without a lawyer, you can easily miss legal deadlines and may not be able to collect enough evidence to build a strong case. As a result, you may not receive the financial compensation you deserve.
What is the average nursing home neglect settlement?
The average nursing home settlement in the United States is about $406,000, according to Health Affairs, a monthly peer-reviewed health care journal.
The value of nursing home neglect lawsuits varies from case to case. Talking with an experienced nursing home attorney is generally the best way to get a case value estimate for your unique situation.
Find out if LawFirm.com can connect you right now with a free consultation.