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Nursing Home Abuse
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Nursing Home Abuse FAQs

Nursing home abuse can take many forms, from physical to mental and even financial. It is important to understand what it is and how to deal with it. Most states have an agency that will investigate. A nursing home abuse lawyer can help you understand your legal options.

What Is Nursing Home Abuse?

In general, abuse is treating a person in a harmful or offensive manner, or speaking harshly or unjustly to or about the person. So nursing home abuse is abuse—which can be physical, verbal, psychological, sexual, or financial—of a resident in a long-term care facility.

What Is the Difference Between Abuse and Neglect in a Nursing Home?

Abuse is a deliberate act, while neglect is a careless act. Certain things, such as hitting or yelling at a resident, are clearly abuse, but other circumstances are less clear. For example, the failure to provide basic necessities, such as food, shelter, and medical care, could be abuse if it was done deliberately. If a caregiver was being careless, it would most likely be neglect. Neither situation is acceptable and should be reported.

Why Does Nursing Home Abuse Seem to Be so Common?

Although most nursing home residents are not abused, it does happen much too often. Unfortunately, several factors that are common in nursing homes also make abuse more likely:

  • Poorly trained or unqualified staff
  • Not enough staff to handle patients' needs
  • Reluctance of residents themselves to report abuse

When abuse is not reported, nursing homes cannot fire or retrain offending staff and abuse continues.

Where Can I Complain About Nursing Home Abuse?

Your first step should be to tell the nursing home's manager or administrator. Hopefully, he or she will take appropriate action. If that does not happen or if the abuse continues, you will need to contact your state or county agency that deals with these issues. This will vary by state, but is likely to be one of these:

  • Adult Protective Services (APS)
  • A local area Agency on Aging
  • Your local State Department of Health Licensing
  • Your county Department of Social Services

If your loved one is in immediate danger, call 911 first. Once you have the ball rolling with your state agency, you may also want to talk with a personal injury lawyer specializing in nursing home abuse to investigate filing a civil lawsuit.

What Happens After I Complain About Nursing Home Abuse?

The state agency will investigate your claims. The caseworker will most likely interview your loved one, you, other family members, and the staff and management at the nursing home. If the agency decides your complaint is founded, it will provide your loved one with the services necessary to rectify the situation. This may include finding a new nursing home.

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