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What Is Considered Negligence in a Nursing Home?

Nursing home neglect is a terrible but all-too-common problem in the United States. Physical and emotional health problems may arise because of nursing home patients not receiving adequate care. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nursing home neglect occurs when a facility fails to meet an older person’s basic needs. Among these requirements are food, water, shelter, clothing, hygiene, and primary medical care.

According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, neglect accounts for about 15% of elder abuse allegations in nursing homes. Many nursing homes demonstrate consideration for their elderly residents. Unfortunately, some nursing home workers fail to provide proper care to the elderly.

Is Nursing Home Neglect Abuse?

Many people feel that physical abuse is the only type of abuse in a nursing home. However, neglect is also a form of abuse. If a staff worker neglects a resident on purpose, they should be held accountable. Even if nursing home neglect is unintentional, it has the potential to be harmful. Inadequate medication administration to an older patient may have life-threatening consequences and is often associated with nursing home neglect.

Causes of Nursing Home Negligence

An older woman viewing something on a smartphone

A lack of staff members can often attribute to patients’ receiving an inadequate level of care. Employees who are stressed or overworked may not provide the amount of care required to keep residents healthy. One of the most common reasons for caregiver stress is inadequate training. Additionally, many assisted living and long-term care facilities may not do background checks on their employees; this leads to staff being under qualified.

An understaffed facility

There may not be enough workers to effectively care for residents, which may negatively impact the institution’s overall quality. When employees are under a lot of pressure, they are more likely to make mistakes. For years, many nursing homes have been plagued by chronic understaffing, worsening in recent years. According to the Nurse Journal, there will need to be over 1 million nurses hired in the United States to replace retiring nurses by 2022. CBS News reports that long-term nursing care workers may struggle to stay due to the stress of caring and low pay.

Insufficient methods of hiring

Licensed nursing homes may fail to undergo thorough background checks when hiring their staff. People who have been abused or have a history of drug or alcohol abuse are statistically more likely to harm others. Even with stricter rules, larger nursing homes often have just as bad a recruiting process as smaller independent institutions.

Inadequate staff preparation and training

Even if new employees pass a background check, they may still commit nursing home abuse if the institution does not appropriately train them—staff errors, such as failing to give patients the proper prescriptions, can lead to dire consequences.

The Various Forms of Nursing Home Neglect

A nursing home can be irresponsible in a variety of ways. Below are among the most encountered issues that lead to residents being abused or neglected.

Duty abandonment

When a nursing home professional fails to offer proper medical care to a patient, this is called duty abandonment or medical neglect. Among these occurrences are:

  • Failure to supply the necessary medication dosages or medication errors
  • Patients with diabetes or dementia who receive insufficient medical attention
  • If elderly adults with limited mobility are not moved often, they are at risk of getting bedsores
  • Not telling a doctor or nurse about any signs of illness or infection

Emotional neglect

It is never too late for older adults to make new friends in nursing facilities. Social relationships can have a positive effect on an aging person’s mental health. Nursing home staff members that restrict patients from socializing may be committing emotional mistreatment.

Neglect of life’s essentials

Neglecting a patient’s essentials is when nursing home staff does not provide residents with things like food, water, medications, and time to socialize.

Personal hygiene receives inadequate attention

Employees who disrespect residents’ cleanliness may have an impact on their appearance and well-being. The consequences of poor cleaning in nursing homes could be fatal.

Symptoms and Signs of Neglect in Nursing Homes

The following are warning signs of nursing home neglect:

  • Bedsores (also known as pressure ulcers or pressure sores)
  • Significant alterations in one’s personality
  • Splintered limbs
  • Concerns about health and hygiene
  • Bruises
  • Medical conditions that have yet to be diagnosed or treated
  • Burns
  • Dehydration
  • Malnutrition
  • Insomnia

Despite these warning signs, identifying neglect without the assistance of a third party may be challenging. Elders who have Alzheimer’s or dementia may be unable to share their side of the story, making it much more difficult.

Who Is Legally Liable in the Event of Nursing Home Negligence?

Both a nursing home and its workers may be held accountable for negligence. Long-term care facilities are responsible for employing and training the best caregivers available. It is also critical to have enough personnel to care for all the residents. Finally, the facility owners must guarantee that the facilities are clean and operational. Employees in nursing homes have a low tolerance for error because even a minor mistake might be fatal to an older person who is already frail. Victims and their families may file nursing home lawsuits against long-term care facilities that fail to protect their residents from harm. Victims of nursing home abuse and neglect have earned court verdicts of up to $1 million.

How Do I Inquire About Nursing Home Neglect?

Neglect in a nursing home is a severe problem with possibly lethal consequences. If you require additional support in reporting neglect, contact a long-term care ombudsperson. A local ombudsman is available to aid nursing home patients in investigating allegations of maltreatment.

How the Leav & Steinberg Team Can Help

If you suspect a family member or older adult is being abused or neglected, Adult Protective Services (APS), police, and social workers can all help you keep them safe. In addition, you may want to speak with a nursing home negligence attorney who can help you get reimbursed for medical bills and other expenses. Contact the abuse attorneys at Leav & Steinberg today for a free consultation by calling 347-960-2422 or visit our Manhattan office for more information.