The Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Lawyers Network Contact the Nursing Home Lawyers Network Find a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer in Your State

Types of Nursing Home Abuse Injuries

The amount of nursing homes cited for abuse has tripled since 1996

Abuse and neglect in a nursing home can include assault, battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, rape, unreasonable physical constraint, prolonged deprivation of food and water, failure to give necessary medical care, use of physical or chemical restraint or psychotropic medication for any purpose not consistent with that authorized by physician, and many others.


Click on the links below for a discussion on the three primary types of mistreatment:

Physical Abuse
Mental / Emotional Abuse

Physical Abuse
Sadly, physical abuse of senior citizens is not that uncommon. For their safety and protection, we must understand the definition and signs of physical abuse. Physical abuse is force that causes injury or pain. Striking, hitting, beating, pushing, shoving, shaking, slapping, or kicking are considered physical abuse. Abuse can also involve the inappropriate use of physical restraints,which include tie–downs or straps. If restraints are left in place too long, bruises may result. Freedom of movement becomes limited, and over a period of time the use of restraints may result in deconditioning and muscle atrophy.

Elders should not be given drugs to restrain them, unless these medications are necessary to treat their medical symptoms. Overmedicating a nursing home resident with tranquilizing drugs for the convenience of the staff is abusive. Employing psychotherapeutic or antipsychotic drugs for patient discipline is abusive. If a nursing home or hospital patient is in severe pain, providing inadequate pain medication may also constitute elder abuse. Similarly, failing to administer prescribed drugs may be neglect or physical abuse.

Mental/Emotional Abuse
An elderly loved one can be harmed by words alone. Emotional or psychological abuse is the infliction of pain or distress, usually through insults, threats, intimidation, humiliation, or harassment.

If emotional abuse in nursing homes is occurring, the family members should immediately notify the facility. The facility should amend the situation at once, but if the emotional abuse in the nursing home persists, the family should take further action. The chances of the emotional abuse in nursing homes occurring to just one resident is very slim, so other residents are probably suffering as well. Emotional abuse in nursing homes can include humiliation, harassment, threat of punishment, deprivation, and intimidation, as well as other behaviors.

Federal and State laws require that nursing homes develop a plan of care and employ sufficient staffing to provide ALL the care listed on the care plan. Because most corporate owned nursing homes today are not sufficiently staffed, they cannot provide ALL the care listed on the care plan. Consequently, residents are not taken to the toilet when necessary, they are often left lying in urine and feces, develop painful and life threatening pressure sores (decubitus ulcers), are not fed properly, are not given sufficient fluids, are over-medicated or under-medicated, are dropped causing painful bruises and fractures, are not cleaned or groomed, are ignored and not included in activities, are left in bed all day, are not turned, call lights not answered promptly or not at all, etc., all forms of neglect.

Neglect means the negligent failure of any person having the care or custody of an elder or a dependent adult to exercise that degree of care which a reasonable person in a like position would exercise.

Neglect includes, but is not limited to:

  • Failure to assist in personal hygiene, or in the provision of food, clothing, or shelter;
  • Failure to provide medical care for physical and mental health needs;
  • Failure to protect from health and safety hazards;
  • Failure to prevent malnutrition; and
  • Failure to prevent dehydration.

Click on these links to read about a few common types of neglect:

Bed Injuries
Pressure Ulcers
Falls & Fractures

Nutritional well-being is an important part of successful aging. Improper nutrition or malnutrition can lead to infections, confusion, and muscle weakness resulting in immobility and falls, pressure ulcers, pneumonia, and decreased immunity to bacteria and viruses. Malnutrition is costly, lowers the quality of nursing home residents' lives, and is often avoidable. Based on the nutritional assessment, the facility must take steps to ensure that the resident maintains good nutritional health and must provide residents with a well-balanced, palatable meal.

Many things can cause malnutrition in nursing home residents. The following are factors that may prevent a resident from receiving adequate amounts of the vitamins, minerals, protein, and calories the resident needs:

Physical Causes:

  • Illness
  • Adverse drug effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cognitive disturbances, or sleepiness
  • Food and drug interactions which decrease the ability of the body to absorb vitamins and minerals
  • Depression
  • Swallowing disorders
  • Mouth problems such as tooth loss, dentures that do not fit properly, mouth sores, and mouth pain
  • Tremors, which affect the residents' ability to feed themselves

Environmental Causes:

  • Inadequate attention from staff for residents who need assistance eating
  • Staff who are uneducated about malnutrition and proper ways to feed residents who need help
  • Reliance on liquid supplements
  • Special diets

Signs That A Resident is Malnourished:

Ask the following questions to determine whether your loved one is demonstrating signs of malnutrition:

  • Do the clothes fit more loosely than usual?
  • Are there cracks around the mouth?
  • Do the lips and mouth look pale?
  • Has the resident complained that his/her dentures no longer fit?
  • Has the resident's hair been thinning or growing more sparse?
  • Do wounds seem to take longer to heal?
  • Does the resident appear confused (not as a result of a disease such as Alzheimer's)?
  • Is the resident's skin breaking down?
  • Does the resident's eyes look sunken?
  • Does the resident appear to be losing weight?

Dehydration should be managed through an individualized daily plan to promote adequate hydration based upon identifying the risk factors, which include:

  • Alzheimer's, or other dementia
  • Major psychiatric disorders
  • Depression
  • Stroke
  • Repeated infections
  • Diabetes
  • Malnutrition
  • Urinary incontinence
  • History of dehydration
  • 4 or more chronic conditions
  • Use of diuretics, antidepressants, psychotropics, or anti-anxiety medications, laxatives, or steroids
  • Chronic cognitive impairment
  • Inadequate nutritional status
  • Acute situations: vomiting, diarrhea and/or fevers

A facility may be found guilty of neglect by either causing dehydration while the resident is in their care, or failing to treat the problem of dehydration properly.

Bed injuries
Between 1993 and 1996, there were 74 reports of death from strangulation or suffocation involving hospital beds. The federal General Accounting Office has concluded that many deaths go unreported.

Some siderails extend the full length of the bed. Others, called half rails, are about 2-1/2 feet long. Some are metal, others plastic. Most can be raised or lowered. Siderails are divided, either vertically or horizontally, with slats spaced about six or more inches apart. This space can trap an elderly person's head, causing him or her to strangle. A particularly thin, frail person could potentially squeeze between the rails and fall to the floor. Often mattresses fit loosely in the frame, leaving gaps large enough to trap the resident between the mattress and siderail, also leading to suffocation.

Pressure ulcers
Pressure ulcers are also referred to as pressure sores, bedsores, and decubitus ulcers. A pressure ulcer can range from a very mild pink coloration to the skin which disappears in a few hours after the pressure is relieved, to a very deep wound extending to and sometimes through a bone into internal organs.

All pressure ulcers have a course of injury similar to a burn wound. This can be a mild redness of the skin and/or blistering, such as a first degree burn to a deep open wound with a lot of blackened tissue in it, such as a third or fourth degree burn.

The primary cause of pressure ulcers is unrelieved pressure. It can also occur from friction by rubbing against something such as a bed sheet, cast, brace, etc. or from prolonged exposure to cold. Any area of tissue that lies just over a bone is more likely to form a pressure ulcer. These areas include the spine, coccyx or "tailbone", hips, heels, and elbows. Other contributing factors to the development of pressure ulcers are poor nutrition, weight loss, diabetes, poor hygiene, and dehydration.

The development of pressure ulcers may be an indication of potential problems in the care being delivered to the nursing home resident. Even in good nursing homes, small wounds may develop, but with quick attention, these wounds will heal and not progress to massive wounds. According to federal law, in most situations there is no medically valid reason for a pressure ulcer to progress to a Stage IV situation (a massive deep open wound).

Falls and fractures
Falls are the most frequent causes of fractures in the elderly. Nursing home residents are at increased risk for falls, primarily due to advanced age of the population. There are many other factors which place individuals at risk for falls. Nursing home personnel are regularly required to assess patients to determine their risk for falling, and provide safety devices and services to minimize the risk of injury to the resident. When nursing home staff members are negligent, these risks are ignored and residents sustain physical injury as a result. Some of the risk factors for falls include:

  • Previous falls
  • Cardiac arrhythmias
  • Stroke
  • Central nervous system disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, dementia and others
  • Problems with mobility and gait
  • Low blood pressure (orthostatic hypotension) on standing up
  • Bowel or bladder incontinence
  • Dizziness
  • Dehydration
  • Visual impairment
  • Use of restraints
  • Medications

If you suspect a loved one may be the victim of physical abuse, mental abuse, or negligence while living in a nursing home, you need a strong legal force to help you uncover the truth. Find out what you can do if a loved one may be in danger.

Find a Nursing Home Negligence Lawyer

The Nursing Home Lawyers Network

Contact Us

Home | Nursing Home Injuries | Rights & Legal Info
Find a Lawyer | Resources | News | Site Map

Copyright © 2006 Nursing Home Lawyers Network provides information about nursing home abuse, and nursing home negligence.

Disclaimer: The Nursing Home Lawyers Network services all 50 states including Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, DC, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.This does not mean, however, that all nursing home cases will be accepted and we reserve the right to decline any representation. This site only provides information about nursing home abuse, and nursing home negligence, it is not meant to be taken as legal advice. Click here for more.

Welcome to the Nursing Home Lawyers Network Nursing home injuries resulting from nursing home abuse or nursing home negligence Nursing home abuse legal information Find a Nursing Home Lawyer in Your State Resources for Nursing Home Abuse Read News Feeds Regarding Nursing Home Lawyers Network Contact the Nursing Home Lawyers Network