Main Menu

What is Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect?

Articles & Publications

January 18, 2022

The statistics about nursing home neglect or abuse are jarring: a national survey of nursing home staff reported that a total of 36% of nursing home residents say that they witnessed a minimum of one incident of physical abuse against an elderly patient in the previous year. 10% of staff committed at least one act of physical abuse toward an elderly patient, and 40% of staff admitted to psychologically abusing patients. 

Nursing home abuse can occur in a number of forms, and it is not limited to instances of physical abuse. Other common types of abuse that occur in nursing homes include psychological abuse, financial exploitation, neglect, and sexual abuse. If you are concerned that a loved one has suffered some type of elder abuse, keep reading to learn about what actions you can take. 

Types of Nursing Home Abuse

Elder abuse is any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to an older adult. It can be physical, emotional, sexual, or even financial, and includes neglect. Some common examples of neglect or abuse in nursing homes are:

  • Falls and injuries when not properly supervised.
  • Pressure sores or bedsores.
  • Malnutrition and dehydration.
  • Choking or suffocation.
  • Infections and illnesses resulting from lack of hygienic conditions or proper assistance with personal hygiene.
  • Wandering off or elopement.
  • Use of improper methods of restraint.
  • Medication errors, including incorrect medication and incorrect dosing.
  • Financial exploitation.
  • Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse by carers.

Nursing home residents are some of the nation’s most vulnerable individuals, and they need to be protected. If you or a loved one has suffered or is currently suffering from some form of nursing home abuse or neglect, there are ways to seek protection and to potentially receive compensation for the harm you have suffered. A nursing home abuse lawyer can work with you to help you navigate each and every step of your case and help you get the positive result that you deserve. They can guide you through the legal options available to you, inform you of what steps you need to take, and ultimately can work to hold accountable those who have subjected you to abuse.

How to Report Suspected Nursing Home Abuse

When abuse is suspected, there is no time to waste; it must be reported immediately to protect the injured individual from any more harm. If the patient is at immediate risk of harm, call 911 to alert police. 

For those who are affected by abuse or neglect in Delaware at a long-term care facility, the incident needs to be reported to the Delaware Division of Health Care Quality on the Complaint & Incident Reporting 24-Hour Toll-Free line at 1-877-453-0012 or through their online complaint form.

The nursing home administrator should usually be informed of the elder abuse that is alleged to have occurred at their facility. However, in some situations, such as where the administrator may be complicit in the abuse, it may be advisable to notify the police or state authorities first.

In Delaware, suspected abuse of a resident of a long-term care facility should be reported to the Delaware Division of Health Care Quality. Reports can be made on the Complaint & Incident Reporting 24-Hour Toll-Free line at 1-877-453-0012 or via their online complaint form.

You can also report the suspected abuse to the police and to the Delaware Long-Term Care Ombudsman which advocates for residents of long-term care facilities, and investigates and resolves complaints.

Finally, contact a Delaware nursing home neglect lawyer for advice on your loved one’s legal rights and protections.

What Happens When Nursing Home Abuse is Reported

When someone reports a possible case of elder abuse to the necessary state authorities, there will be an individual assigned to the report who will make an evaluation of whether or not it meets the requirements for the local division of Adult Protective Services to be brought in. 

When it comes to cases of elder abuse within Delaware, the Delaware Division of Health Care Quality handles Adult Protective Services. When you make a report, you do not have to provide your name or any personal information, but you may be asked details about the victim’s health conditions and the suspected abuse. 

An experienced nursing home abuse lawyer can guide an affected party through their options and discuss with them potential paths in order to help them get a positive result that protects them from harm.  

Taking Legal Action for Nursing Home Abuse Claims

If you or a loved one has suffered a form of nursing home abuse, there are legal options that you can pursue to protect the injured party from future harm, while also pursuing recourse for the harm that they have already suffered. If someone is considering pursuing legal action related to a nursing home abuse claim, consulting with an experienced nursing home abuse attorney can go a long way.

A nursing home abuse lawyer can help with a number of aspects. They can inform the injured patients and their families about their specific legal rights under both state and federal laws. The attorney can handle any necessary communication on your or your loved one’s behalf, whether it involves having conversations with the nursing home administrator or the nursing home’s attorneys, or if it involves having discussions with insurance companies. An experienced nursing home abuse lawyer can play a key role when it comes to bringing legal claims against nursing homes as well as any other party that may be responsible for the elder abuse that is being alleged. They can help negotiate a settlement on behalf of you or your loved one, and also help you receive compensation through a legal claim in the court system. 

If an individual wants to pursue a claim against a nursing home for abuse or neglect, it would be prudent to first reach out to an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer, who can leverage their combination of experience and knowledge to guide clients through their cases.

Nursing homes where elder abuse has taken place are potentially at risk for serious sanctions. This depends on what has occurred at the nursing home, how many times it has occurred, as well as the harm that was suffered by the resident or residents of the nursing home. Among the sanctions, a nursing home may face include fines, termination of their Medicare and Medicaid eligibility (which means they are no longer permitted to accept patients that pay with either Medicare or Medicaid), and mandatory staff training, among other prospective penalties. Whether there have been instances of physical abuse or if staff members have committed emotional abuse or negligent acts, nursing homes can be held responsible for the actions that take place within their buildings.

Nursing home abuse is a terrible and all-too-common occurrence in this country, impacting millions of Americans each year. If either you or one of your loved ones has been impacted by nursing home abuse or neglect, then the experienced nursing home abuse lawyers of Morris James can help you as you handle your various legal needs. Contact one of our team members at your local Morris James office or by using our online contact form today.

Back to Page