What Constitutes Nursing Home Neglect?

Nursing homes that accept funding from Medicaid or Medicare must comply with rigid regulations and requirements.  Under federal law, nursing home and long-term care residents have the right to be free from sexual, verbal, physical, and mental abuse, as well as corporal punishment, neglect, and involuntary seclusion.[1]  They also have the right to a safe environment.  When a nursing home’s actions or inaction interfere with these rights and a resident is injured, the individual and his or her family may be entitled to monetary compensation for medical treatment, pain and suffering, and other damages.

At Friedlander and Mosher, we represent nursing home neglect clients on contingency.  This means we only receive a fee if we recover compensation through a settlement or jury award.  If a loved one was injured by nursing home neglect, we invite you to call our office at 607-272-5590 to schedule a free consultation to learn about your legal options for seeking to hold all responsible parties accountable.

What is the Difference Between Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect?

While abuse and neglect can both result in significant injury and death, they are not the same.  Nursing home abuse typically refers to the intentional infliction of injury, punishment, or intimidation that causes physical harm or mental suffering.  Nursing home neglect, on the other hand, is the failure of personnel to uphold the standard of care in a facility, or the failure to take specific action.

Often neglect occurs through the lack of the nursing home and staff to implement individual care plans to protect residents based upon their specific needs and physical condition, to implement proper hygiene practices (such as to bathe residents), and to attend to the needs of residents (such as to assist them when they need to use a bathroom).

Providing the proper care of residents – especially those who have severe physical and mental limitations – can be challenging.  There must be adequate staffing and supervision, and staff must be properly trained.

The fact that resident care may be challenging, however, is never an excuse for neglect.  When a nursing home agrees to accept a resident, part of the agreement is acceptance of providing the care that a resident may need.  Thus it is never acceptable for a nursing home to claim that it was difficult caring for a resident as an excuse for resident neglect.

What Are Examples of Nursing Home Neglect?

The circumstances and conditions that constitute nursing home neglect are too numerous to list in complete detail.  In general, nursing home neglect can arise in a variety of contexts, including (but not limited to) the failure to:

  • conduct or follow Interdisciplinary Assessments
  • comply with safety protocols when assisting residents with mobility issues
  • provide a sanitary and safe facility
  • timely assist residents when asked for assistance
  • provide adequate water, nourishment, clothing, or shelter
  • provide necessary medical or dental care
  • dispense correct prescription medications
  • interact with residents, and to treat them with dignity.

What Can You Do to Help Stop Neglect?

At the outset, it’s critical to understand that if a nursing home is neglecting your loved one, the nursing home – and not you – are solely responsible for all physical and psychological injuries that arise. 

When injuries from neglect, abuse, and negligence arise, nursing homes often want to prey on the emotions of family members in seeking to avoid liability.

For instance, they may try to blame family members for putting a loved one in the nursing home in the first place; questioning whether the family really cared about their loved one (and asserting that their loved one would not have been injured if the family instead cared for their loved one at home).  They may also blame the family members for not spotting abuse, negligence, or neglect, such as by arguing that if family members visited more frequently and paid better attention to their loved one, their loved one’s injuries would not have occurred.

These assertions do not relieve the nursing home of liability.  It does not matter whether a family may have had the resources or ability to keep their loved one at their home – the fact that a loved one is in a nursing home makes the nursing home fully liable for providing proper care.

Similarly, it is not up to a family to make sure that their loved one is not being harmed or injured by a nursing home.  The nursing home is entrusted to provide proper care; there is no oversight responsibility required by families as part of a resident’s care plan.

If a loved one has been injured by abuse, neglect, or negligence, you should not hesitate to contact us for a free case evaluation, and to learn about the options for seeking justice and compensation.  In the interim, there are actions that family members can take to help protect their loved one, including by:

  • Conducting Research on Any Nursing Homes Being Considered. Before choosing a nursing home or other long-term care facility, it is vital to conduct research and ask questions.  The government maintains an online database of the facilities that accept Medicare and Medicaid.  This website also provides facility ratings based on health inspections, staffing, and quality of resident care.[2] As noted above, a family is not responsible for a loved one’s abuse or neglect by virtue of selecting a nursing home; the nursing home is full liable.
  • Staying Engaged. Elderly individuals isolated from loved ones have a significantly increased chance of being abused or neglected in a nursing home.  Consequently, it is critical to maintain an active relationship with individuals residing in care facilities.
  • Spotting Telltale signs of Abuse and Neglect. Does your loved one have unexplained bruising or injuries? Are they fearful around some staff members? Have you seen a marked change in personality for the worse? These and similar changes may indicate signs of abuse or neglect which may need to be carefully investigated.
  • Ensure Regular IAs are Conducted. IAs play a significant role in ensuring residents receive the care and protection needed to prevent serious and life-threatening injuries.  Therefore, it is vital to ensure that nursing home staff conducts assessments at admission, annually, and whenever significant medical issues arise (such as shingles or a fall).
  • Communicating with Nursing Home Management. It is imperative to stay engaged with both loved ones and nursing home staff.  If a resident has complaints, it can be helpful to make staff aware of the issues and follow up to ensure the concerns are addressed.
  • Visiting Regularly. Routinely visiting a nursing home is one of the best ways to monitor the conditions of a facility and the health of loved ones.
  • Taking Immediate Action. If you suspect a loved one is being abused or neglected in a nursing home, it is critical to take immediate action by reporting your concerns with nursing home management (and with the proper authorities if abuse is suspected).  We also invite you to schedule a free consultation with our firm.  If left unaddressed, nursing home abuse and neglect can be exacerbated, resulting in more substantial injuries and damages.  Thus, it is advisable to act immediately so that those responsible can be held accountable.

Should I Sue a Nursing Home for Negligence In New York?

Suing a nursing home can help your loved one and your family cover medical treatment and other expenses resulting from neglect.  It can also prevent other elderly residents from suffering in the future, as nursing homes that have been sued often change policies and implement safety protocols to avoid additional litigation.

The process of bringing a claim against a long-term care facility or nursing home should begin as soon as possible, as there is only a limited amount of time to file a claim.  This filing deadline is known as the statute of limitations, and, in New York, is generally three years from the date of the injury or neglect.[3]  It is not wise to wait until the last minute to file, however, because it can take significant time to conduct an investigation to make an initial determination as to whether a case for nursing home liability exists.

Schedule a Free Consultation With An Experienced Nursing Home Injury Attorney.

If you suspect neglect, abuse, or negligence. we urge you to call Friedlander and Mosher, immediately at (607) 272-5590 to schedule a free consultation with an experienced nursing home neglect attorney.

[1] 42 CFR 483.13.

[2] Find & compare nursing homes, hospitals & other providers near you, Medicare.gov, https://www.medicare.gov/care-compare/?providerType=NursingHome&redirect=true#search.

[3] NY CVP § 214.

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NY Nursing Home Injury Center