Consequences of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Consequences of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Approximately 1.6 million people in the United States live in nursing homes. Therefore, there is a great need to care for them and keep them safe. A number of federal and state laws are in place to preserve the safety and dignity of nursing home residents, and to protect them from mistreatment.

Nevertheless, nursing home abuse and neglect takes place on a daily basis and is estimated to affect millions of people every year. If you suspect that an elderly loved one has been the victim of neglect or abuse, you have an obligation to report it right away. However, what happens after that? What are the consequences for the responsible individuals or facilities?

A health care provider (e.g., doctor or nurse) who commits abuse or neglect may face disciplinary action. This may include losing his or her job and/or his or her license to practice. The appropriate state regulatory body may also impose sanctions on the facility itself. It may have to pay monetary damages, lose government funding, and perhaps even lose its operating license. If its operating procedures are shown to have contributed to the abuse, the state regulatory body may force it to change the policies.

Abuse Versus Neglect

Abuse involves acting in a way that causes harm to a resident or exploits him or her in some way. Striking patients, manipulating them into giving up something of value, or demeaning them with threats or insults all count as abuse. Neglect, on the other hand, involves a failure to provide for the resident’s basic needs. Examples include insufficient nutrition, infrequent check-ins, failure to treat bedsores, etc. Neglect is passive, while abuse is active.

Civil Versus Criminal

Many instances of abuse and neglect result from negligence by the facility or the staff. If this is the case, you or your loved one may be able to file a lawsuit and seek damages for the harm that has been done to him or her. While nursing home abuse and neglect is illegal, it does not always reach the level of a crime. However, if there is evidence of willful intent to cause harm to one or more residents, law enforcement may choose to file criminal charges — perhaps with the possibility of prison time, if convicted.

If the abuse case does involve criminal charges, this does not necessarily preclude you from also filing a lawsuit as a civil action. Regardless of the situation, a nursing home abuse lawyer, like a nursing home abuse lawyer in Houston, TX, may be able to help. Contact one today for more information. 

Thanks to John K. Zaid & Associates for their insight into the consequences of nursing home abuse and neglect.