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What is Considered Nursing Home Negligence?

Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran

In 2012, 95% of nursing home residents complained of experiencing or witnessing neglect while staying in a nursing home. Although it is sometimes complicated to prove negligence in all these cases, this statistic is extremely troubling. Any nursing home facility, elder facility, or convalescent home can be sued if there is a lapse of care for the patient that leads to patient harm.

Caring for the elderly in long-term care facilities is a very demanding and challenging job. Negligence can occur when an accident happens, an employee is lax in their duties, or purposely imposes harm on a patient or fails to act appropriately in a crisis. The facility itself can also be found negligent if there are not practices and policies in place to ensure the health and safety of the patients and residents.

Types of Negligence

Negligence when caring for the elderly in a nursing home or assisted living facilities setting can be divided into four general types. They are medical neglect, neglect of basic needs, neglect of personal hygiene, and social or emotional neglect. Several warning signs accompany these categories and, if recognized, can be used as evidence of neglect and poor treatment.

Neglect, whether intentional or unintentional, is elder abuse. Nursing home staff who are negligent or wantonly cruel in their duties are infringing on the patient’s right to care. If a nursing home fails to properly train staff or put protocols in place to prevent abuse and neglect, they may be liable for the pain and suffering your loved one has endured.

If you are concerned about instances of maltreatment, these should be documented for use by the medical malpractice attorney at our law firm in a claim for compensation.

1. Medical Neglect

People placed in a nursing home are usually elderly and most often require a regimen of the administration of medicines and other proper care. Negligence in this area can occur with patients when the nursing staff does not adhere to the regular time the patient should receive their medications, or the dosage is inaccurate.

The patient may also be bed-ridden, and if they are not turned regularly according to a schedule, they may develop bed sores or infections. Some of the more complex conditions like diabetes care, cognitive disorders, and immobility issues require extreme diligence on the part of the care provider, and mistakes or lapses in care can become larger problems. Malnutrition, weight loss, or frequent infections are cause for alarm in a case of elder abuse.

2. Neglect of Basic Needs

One of the basic needs that the residents of nursing homes have is that the facility be kept clean and in good order. Clean bedding, sanitary dining areas, and bathrooms are required by state and federal guidelines and standards.

Nursing shortages and constant turnover of staffing can lead to problems with maintaining a safe and sanitary living area. Untrained staff pose a greater risk to nursing facility residents. In negligence suits, staffing turnover can be grounds for a medical malpractice claim.

3. Personal Hygiene

Nursing home residents often have difficulty caring for themselves. Some of these daily activities include bathing, keeping their nails clipped, dressing for the day, and taking care of their teeth with regular dental care. It is usually very noticeable when the aspects of personal hygiene are neglected.

When a patient lacks the care to maintain their personal integrity by looking and feeling well, it could be a reason to look at the quality of care and the training provided by the staff members in the facility. Additionally, the lack of assistance with these daily needs can also be considered physical abuse, especially if the patient is intentionally neglected for days.

4. Emotional Neglect

One of the most common events leading to negligence is to have an overworked and insensitive staff member yelling at an elderly person who is not responding to direction or assistance. Anytime a resident is withdrawn socially or feels fear and intimidation from staff is the time to consider an emotional abuse and negligence claim.

Other symptoms of emotional neglect to watch for include depression, insomnia, personality changes, anxiety, substance abuse, unpaid bills, and feelings of isolation. In extreme cases, some patients may be suicidal.

Emotional Neglect

Other Signs of Neglect and Abuse

If you suspect a long-term care facility of neglect or abuse, you can also watch for these signs:

  • Unexplained and/or chronic bruises, cuts, and bone fractures
  • Dehydration
  • Restraint marks on the wrists and ankles
  • Incorrect medication dosages, conflicting medications, ineffective medications, and medications with excessive side effects that are not monitored or addressed
  • Burns
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Pain in the genitals
  • Soiled bedding
  • Missing property and personal items
  • Extreme personality changes, including refusal of care, withdrawal from social interactions, frequent angry outbursts, or episodes of confusion

Final Word

Negligent nursing claims in a nursing home can be hard to prove because of some of the subtle ways the elderly can be neglected in that setting. However, the keen observer can usually detect patterns of behavior that can lead to a nursing home abuse lawsuit.

If you suspect your loved one’s death was the result of nursing home negligence, we can help you pursue a wrongful death lawsuit. We gather all the evidence necessary to build a case that will hold those involved accountable for their actions.

At Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. ,we have the knowledge and experience to investigate these instances of abuse and neglect, and we can protect your loved ones in nursing home care. Call us at 866-MICH-LAW for a free consultation.

Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.

Joy is a professional writer with 12 years of experience, and she spent 10 years as a high school English teacher. Joy has her Bachelor of Arts in English and Secondary Education, and she's working on her Master of Arts in English. She has three years of experience writing about legal matters including medical malpractice, car accident insurance law, and pet ownership rights. She enjoys spending her time with her three dogs.



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