Difference between Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Seniors living in nursing homes are among the most vulnerable individuals in society. Nursing homes serve a vital role in the lives of residents and their loved ones. According to the National Center for Elder Abuse, hundreds of thousands report elder abuse complaints annually. Most of the complaints received centered on abuse, exploitation, and neglect.

Abuse and neglect may expose nursing home residents to diseases, injuries, and even death. Although their outcomes are similar, neglect and abuse differ according to federal and local state laws. 

If a resident is the victim of elder abuse in a nursing home facility, their loved ones can seek compensation through a claim. Consult an experienced attorney to learn more about seeking justice for loved ones.

Read on to learn how to find help for victims of nursing home abuse and neglect and differentiate between these two violations.

Are Elder Abuse and Neglect Different?

Although these terms are often used interchangeably, neglect and abuse have different interpretations according to law. A seasoned nursing home abuse attorney can help differentiate between the two. 

Nursing Home Abuse: Intentional Violent Acts

Nursing home abuse is a form of elder abuse that involves acts of violence against nursing home residents. It can take various forms, including:

  • Physical abuse
  • Health abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Financial abuse or exploitation
  • Neglect
  • Abandonment

This type of abuse may also involve threats of violence and intimidation. Some nursing home staff might use physical force on their residents, causing injuries. Since they are vulnerable, nursing home residents may also suffer sexual assault at these facilities. 

The most common type of abuse in nursing homes is emotional abuse, where residents endure insults and cruelty at the hands of staff. Below are the most common examples of nursing home abuse:

  • Hitting a resident
  • Threatening residents with physical violence
  • Restraining residents
  • Failing to change residents’ diapers
  • Forcing residents to eat and drink things they don’t want to
  • Sexual misconduct with residents
  • Shaming residents
  • Stealing money or possessions from nursing home residents

If a resident suffers abuse, their loved ones should report the incident to the police as soon as possible and talk to an experienced attorney for legal counsel. 

Nursing Home Neglect: Failing to Fulfil Obligations of Care

Neglect occurs when the nursing home facility fails to fulfill the caretaking responsibility to its residents. Unlike abuse, which is intentional, nursing home neglect may be unintentional. These violations are more common than abuse in nursing homes and often stem from overworked staff, understaffing, or lack of training to care for elderly patients. 

Some typical examples of nursing home neglect include:

  • Medical neglect: Failure to prevent or address residents’ medical concerns, such as bedsores and infections.
  • Basic needs neglect: Failure to provide basic needs such as enough food and water or a safe environment.
  • Personal hygiene neglect: Failure to provide enough help with proper hygiene
  • Social or emotional neglect: Isolating residents, ignoring their needs, or yelling at them.

Difference between Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse

Abuse and neglect are severe forms of mistreatment in nursing homes. Nursing home abuse is a deliberate act that risks or harms the resident and often involves physical and emotional abuse.

Conversely, neglect is often unintentional acts characterized by a failure to fulfill caretaking obligations. Neglect may be active or passive based on the caregiver’s intentions. If one suspects their loved ones are victims of neglect or abuse in a nursing home, they should inform the authorities and consult a nursing home abuse lawyer. 

Signs a Loved One is a Victim of Nursing Home Mistreatment

Because victims may be too scared to speak out or unable to communicate, nursing home abuse and neglect can be challenging to detect. To be cautious, there are some warning signs you can look out for if you suspect a loved one is being mistreated by nursing home staff. 

Common signs include:

  • Emotional withdrawal
  • Physical injuries like burns or bruises
  • Poor hygiene
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Bedsores
  • Sudden behavior changes
  • Dehydration
  • Malnutrition 
  • Frequent accidents, such as falls
  • Inappropriate clothing
  • Hazardous living conditions

Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Qualify for Compensation Claims

Residents and their families rely heavily on nursing homes. Florida has thousands of residents living in nursing home facilities. However, most are managed by profit-driven individuals whose primary concern is not always for the well-being of their residents.

Victims should seek financial compensation following abuse or neglect, whether it was intentional or not. Our Port St. Lucie nursing home negligence lawyers understand how devastating it is for families to learn that their loved ones were abused or neglected by nursing home staff.

Putting a loved one in a nursing home is a difficult decision, especially given the high cost of this care. Victims and their families may feel deceived and exploited when that initial trust is shattered, and they may also face costly medical bills and moving charges.

Where to Report Nursing Home Complaints in Florida

A family member can file a complaint with the Florida Ombudsman’s Office if they believe that their loved one is not receiving adequate care in a long-term care facility in Florida. The state’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman Office investigates abuse claims in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. It may be essential for emergency protective services to remove the resident from the nursing home. Florida has seventeen district councils, each with its volunteer ombudsman.

The Complaint Administration Unit at the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) investigates and responds to complaints about nursing home care in Florida. If someone has a complaint about a state-licensed nursing home, they should contact AHCA or fill out the Licensed Health Care Facility Complaint Form. 

Before reaching out to them, be prepared with crucial information to investigate the situation, including the names of the caregivers involved and the dates and details of the abuse.

Unlicensed nursing homes can be reported by filling out an Unlicensed Health Care Facility Complaint Form.

In case of nursing facility abuse or neglect, you can also contact the Florida Department of Health and Adult Protective Services via their website: ReportAbuse.dcf.state.fl.us. These reporting resources are confidential. 

How a Lawyer Can Help

Family members are often enraged and want to see those responsible for their loved one’s abuse brought to justice. They may also be eligible to seek financial compensation for their loss. At Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers, our elder law attorneys are familiar with Florida State laws and the federal laws that apply to nursing home abuse and negligence.

We work closely with families and loved ones to investigate the allegations of nursing home abuse and develop a strategy to pursue legal action. We take great care to protect our clients’ legal rights and their loved one’s well-being.

We understand the emotional toll elder abuse on a family can bring, and our caring team is prepared to assist claimants in seeking financial compensation for damages such as medical care, therapy, and relocation. 

For clarification about nursing home abuse and neglect claims, please call (561) 800-8000 or fill out our online contact form.

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