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What Constitutes Nursing Home Negligence?

Posted on 01/05/23

Nursing homes can be wonderful places that care for the needs of the elderly when they can no longer care for themselves. Some dedicated nurses and doctors care deeply for their patients. But, the nursing home business also has a darker side, where the elderly are abused and neglected.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define elder neglect as failing to meet basic needs in a nursing home. Food, water, shelter, hygiene clothing, and essential medical care are considered basic needs. Often the elderly cannot advocate for themselves and are in a vulnerable, harmful situation.

Negligence: The Dark Side of Nursing Home Care

The elderly who reside in nursing homes are at the mercy of their caregivers. Hopefully, they are caring and compassionate and do their jobs with a superb level of care. But, sometimes, that is not the case. We hear all too often about elder abuse in these facilities.

Nursing home negligence may not be as calculated as abuse, but it still results in significant harm, severe physical injuries, and even fatalities. By ignoring the needs of the residents, they are at risk. Not being able to communicate what is happening to them can result in a breakdown of care that has serious consequences.

Commonly Recorded Types of Nursing Home Negligence

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a nursing home resident may develop severe illnesses and conditions from neglecting their physical and emotional needs. Here are some typical ways this neglect manifests itself in nursing homes.

Physical Negligence in Nursing Homes

Medical problems occur when a nursing home neglects a patient by not providing them with proper nutrition or hydration. But there are some other examples of physical negligence listed below:

  • Neglecting the patient by not taking them to the bathroom when needed can result in a slip-and-fall accident if they attempt to go alone.
  • Failure to change the diapers of bedridden patients is also physical negligence. It causes hygiene issues that can lead to serious skin problems.
  • Failure to provide medications on schedule can lead to injuries, illness, and death.

Ignoring the needs of an elderly resident can have tragic results. Families place their trust in nursing facilities when they make the difficult decision to place their loved ones there. They assume the quality of life of their mother, father, grandparent, or beloved relative will be improved by round-the-clock care and compassionate staff. When that trust is broken, and their loved one’s needs are overlooked, it is a case of nursing home neglect.

Emotional Negligence in Nursing Homes

The harmful effects of emotional neglect of elderly patients in nursing home facilities can be as severe as physical neglect. Here are some examples of emotional negligence:

  • Lack of social interaction can leave a patient with emotional scarring from isolation. When families choose a nursing facility, solitary confinement is not one of the things they are hoping their loved ones will receive.
  • Lack of emotional support when the patient is stressed, confused, or grieving can damage them psychologically.
  • Lack of entertainment leaves patients without mental stimulation.
  • Lack of personal attention may be displayed by a lack of personal grooming and hygiene or even being spoken to dehumanizingly.
  • Lack of communication about their care and changes in their medications, therapies, or treatments do not permit the patient to have a chance to express their thoughts or feelings, leaving the older adult feeling helpless and as if their life is no longer in their control.

Signs of Neglect in Nursing Homes

When you have a loved one in a nursing home, you may wonder about their care when you are not there to oversee it. Sometimes, the patient cannot express what is happening, so the National Institute on Aging (NIA) has outlined some clues that a resident of a nursing home who is being neglected may demonstrate. They are as follows:

  • Dehydration
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Malnutrition
  • Bedsores
  • Unexplained infections
  • Poor hygiene
  • Personality changes or changes in behavior like anxiety and depression, withdrawal from activities they formerly enjoyed, bouts of anger, a loss of interest in personal grooming and hygiene, and self-harm
  • Medical difficulties resulting from not having their medications administered correctly

This is not an exhaustive list, but if you notice these or other signs that do not feel right to you, go to the nursing home management and discuss them. Often, by letting administrators know that you are paying attention, they will pay closer attention too.

Seek Legal Representation

When your loved one has been neglected in what was supposed to be a safe, compassionate nursing home, you will want to seek legal representation to file a civil suit. By filing a lawsuit, you are holding the facility accountable for their misdeeds and preventing them from neglecting another resident. Contact Towey Law PLLC today so that we can begin investigating your New York nursing home neglect case.