Nursing Home Abuse vs Neglect – What the Difference Means for You or Your Loved One

Placing a relative in a nursing home is never an easy task.  In many cases, however, the medical care and daily attention needed by your family member are beyond what can be provided in their home or with the help of hospice or care workers.  These individuals often need round the clock supervision, medication, mobility assistance and more, placing them in a vulnerable state of reliance on their residential facilities.

With these vulnerabilities in mind, Federal regulations are specifically designed to protect the rights of nursing home residents.  A wide range of laws govern the actions and certifications required by nursing homes with the core principle being that residents have the right to be free from verbal, sexual, physical, and mental abuse, corporal punishment, and involuntary seclusion.

Georgia is one of several states that have gone above and beyond the Federal requirements for nursing home certification and responsibilities.  Among other items, Georgia requires that nursing homes provide clean and comfortable accommodations, proper nutrition, freedom to vote or engage in religious activities if they choose and the freedom from discrimination of any kind.  Violations of these regulations can occur from abuse or neglect, two separate legal principles.  Below we break down the legal distinction between these concepts as well as provide examples of each that may help protect the rights or you or a loved one.

Nursing Home Abuse or Nursing Home Neglect

When advisors, experts or advocates appear in public to speak about bad acts in nursing homes they often paraphrase any violation as nursing home abuse.  It’s important to note, however, that to find a nursing home has failed to provide the proper care you don’t necessarily need an affirmative action to have occurred.  Nursing homes that neglect to properly care for their residents have also violated Federal and GA nursing home regulations and may be liable to the resident or their estate or family for failure to provide proper care.

Nursing Home Abuse

In general terms, the definition of nursing home abuse is any affirmative action taken by a facility that causes direct harm to a resident.  Nursing home abuse is intentional and takes a variety of forms.  The most common types of nursing home abuse include:

  • Physical assault or battery
  • Emotional intimidation or manipulation
  • Theft of resident property
  • Deprivation of food, water or medication
  • Medically unnecessary restraint

Nursing Home Neglect

Unlike nursing home abuse, to show a nursing home has committed neglect, you don’t need to show an intentional action.  Nursing home neglect occurs when the facility has failed to honor their duties and obligations to a resident or has provided sub-standard care.  Common cases of nursing home neglect include:

  • Emotional or social neglect through failure to provide enrichment and interaction
  • Failure to provide proper care to bedsores
  • Allowing pre-existing medical conditions to worsen due to lack of proper care
  • Failure to assist with personal hygiene functions
  • Falls or accidental deaths due to failure to supervise or provide mobility support

One of the worst injuries that can result from neglect is pressure sores or decubitus ulcers which are wounds that develop in parts of your body if you remain sedentary in one position for too long without being moved.

Georgia Law Protects for Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Whether nursing home abuse or neglect, Georgia law provides specific protections for nursing home residents.  If you or your loved one have suffered due to substandard care at a nursing home facility you should know that you can hire legal counsel to help protect your rights.  An experienced nursing home lawyer can not only help recover monetary damages for pain, suffering or loss because of violations; they can also assist in ensuring that future residents are treated properly by the offending facility.  Knowing your rights in the event of nursing home abuse helps not only the individual patient but also ensures that proper standards of care are provided to senior citizens and the most vulnerable and at-risk members of society.