What is Nursing Home Abuse?



Nursing home malpractice is any single or repeated act of intentional or unintentional negligence committed by a nursing home professional that has the potential to cause physical, mental, or psychological harm to nursing home residents. Any commission or omission of an act that harms a patient may be considered nursing home abuse.

In New York, nursing home negligence often comes under the category of elder abuse and is widespread throughout the United States. Approximately 1.7 million people are cared for in nursing homes every year and it is estimated that a quarter of all Americans will receive long term care at some point in their lifetime.

Thousands of nursing home residents die from starvation, dehydration, or bedsores each year and all three of these conditions are a result of nursing home malpractice.

Unfortunately nursing home abuse comes in all sizes and flavors. These include: improper care, verbal or emotional abuse, neglect, or physical negligence.

Nursing home negligence can take many forms such as:

  • Home health attendants who negligently drop a patient

  • Patients who are burned by scalding water

  • Falls from wheel chairs

  • Falls from beds where railing was not placed in an upward and locked position or where the patient was left unattended in an unsafe situation

  • Improper or insufficient care which leads to bedsores or dehydration

  • Patients who injure themselves by trying to get up by themselves because they couldn't obtain assistance

  • Slips and falls due to premises liability such as: broken or slippery floors, loose cords, clutter, etc.

Problems With the Care Facility May Be Due To:

  • Poorly trained, poorly paid, or insufficient nursing staff

  • Overcrowding

  • Inadequate responses to questions about nursing home care

  • Sometimes, staff members have a history of violence.  Other times, staff members are poorly qualified or not trained adequately.

The New York Law Firm of Hill & Moin LLP focuses on cases of physical negligence, general neglect and medical negligence in nursing homes and care facilities. If you suspect that your friend or loved one is a victim of any of the following, contact us now to discuss the details in confidence.

Physical Negligence is the neglect of an elderly person that results in physical pain, injury, or impairment. Potential signs of physical abuse may include:

  • Any incident involving accidently broken bones - especially a fractured hip  

  • Elder reports of being slapped or mistreated

  • Signs of assault such as unexplained abrasions, cuts, burns, bruises, swelling, scars, etc.

  • Unexplained/hidden or internal injuries

  • Inappropriate use of restraints - often evidenced by marks on the patients wrists or arms.

  • Prolonged or continual deprivation of food or water

  • Pushing, shaking, beating of an elderly resident

  • Forcing an older person to stay in a room

  • Physical impairment that the caretaker cannot adequately explain

  • Hitting, slapping, pinching or kicking of an elderly resident

General Neglect

  • Unsanitary and unclean conditions

  • Failure to assist in personal hygiene, or in the provision of food, clothing, or shelter

  • Any injury or death occurring during or shortly after an episode of wandering (including outside the facility) when the staff is not aware that the resident is missing for some period of time

  • Malnutrition, dehydration

  • Smells of urine and/or feces

  • Unkempt appearance or poor personal hygiene

  • Disregard for the necessities of daily living

  • Sudden, inexplicable weight loss

  • Failure to protect from health and safety hazards

Medical Negligence

  • Heavy medication or sedation

  • Untreated physical problems, such as bed sores

  • Lack of care for existing medical problems

  • Failure to prevent dehydration, or malnutrition

  • Lack of proper care causing repeated infections

  • Not providing timely access to medical services

  • Inappropriate administration of drugs thru distribution of too much or too little medication

Common Signs of Abuse

  • Changes in temperament or behavior in the elder

  • Frequent arguments or tension between the caregiver and the elderly person

  • Staff refusing to allow visitors to see resident or significant delays in allowing visitors to see resident

  • Injuries requiring emergency treatment or hospitalization

  • Unexplained or unexpected death of the resident

  • Resident is frequently ill, and the illnesses are not promptly reported to the physician and family

  • Prescriptions that have more remaining than they should

Family members often place their trust and confidence in a nursing home to care for an elderly relative. Too often, nursing homes place their drive for profits above the needs and rights of residents.

The problem often lies in the residents inability to clearly communicate with family members.  Many of the elderly suffer from Alzheimer's, dementia and normally declining memory function.  Some are threatened by staff .

As the nursing shortage becomes a bigger problem, many of these facilities hire staff through temporary staffing agencies.

The laws on nursing home abuse have allowed repeat offenders to be re-staffed, continuing the cycle of abuse.

Unfortunately, deaths and serious injuries have resulted from nursing home neglect and abuse. If you suspect that your friend or relative is a victim of nursing home neglect you should immediately report the problem to the nursing home’s attention. The nursing  home should act promptly and if the problem does not subside government assistance is available.

The New York State Department of Health Nursing Home Complaint hotline is 1-888-201-4563 and can be called 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  For more information, go to http://www.nyhealth.gov/facilities/nursing/complaints.htm.

Some  residents are hesitant to disclose instances of nursing home abuse out of fear that the abuse will get worse or  because they do not want to burden their families. Some residents may not even be able to communicate that  nursing home abuse is occurring due to physical or mental limitations. If there are any signs or indicators that  nursing home abuse is present, immediate action should be taken.

The elderly are often frail and vulnerable to mistreatment by nursing home staff members.  When you feel that your loved one is being abused or neglected, confront the nursing home authorities to alert them of your concern.  While this must be done, it often produces no results. 

Nursing home residents do have legal rights, and this type of inhumane treatment cannot be tolerated. If this happens to you or a loved one, Contact us today for a confidential consultation.

Preventing elder abuse means doing a few simple things

  • Listening to seniors and their caregivers

  • Intervening when you suspect elder abuse

  • Educating others about how to recognize and report elder abuse

  • Take a look at the elder’s medications. Does the amount in the vial jive with the date of the prescription?

  • Call and visit as often as you can.

What can you do as a concerned friend or family member?
Watch for warning signs that might indicate elder abuse. If you suspect abuse, report it and take appropriate action immediately.

News Report

NEW YORK (RK (WABC) -- A janitor at a nursing home has been charged with attempting to sexually abuse an 81-year-old woman with Alzheimer's disease who is unable to communicate.

Now, her family is speaking out about the ordeal exclusively to Investigative Reporter Sarah Wallace.

"I feel very angry, betrayed," said Loren Levy, granddaughter... 

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