What is the Difference Between Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect?

In truth, when you see a loved one suffering in an assisted living facility, the difference between the two may not seem critical. All you want is to get the resident to safety. However, the National Council on Aging (NCOA) clarifies nursing home abuse versus neglect in reporting a disturbing statistic: Up to 5 million elderly individuals are abused every year, and passive neglect is a form of abuse. With both types of mistreatment, the harm to the resident can be severe. Physical injuries are common, and NCOA points out that the problem carries emotional consequences as well. 

Aside from tracking statistics, the distinction between nursing home abuse and neglect is an important one from a legal standpoint. The concepts may affect the basis of a claim when seeking damages, as well as who you can pursue for compensation. A Miami nursing home abuse and neglect attorney can explain the implications for your case, and some information on the differences is useful.

Comparing Abuse v. Neglect in Nursing Homes

The basic difference involves the state of mind behind the actor. 

Abuse involves purposeful, intentional acts of violence. They may be physical, such as punching, kicking, and slapping; sexual assault or abuse is also a type of physical mistreatment. Emotional abuse might include insults, yelling, or forcing the resident into isolation.

It may also be a situation of abuse when staff at the assisted living center do not follow proper protocols and requirements for use of restraints, which are established by Florida statute.

Nursing home neglect is a failure to comply with the duty to keep the resident safe, healthy, and comfortable. This misconduct is related to careless acts, sloppiness, and lack of attention to the resident’s needs. Signs of neglect include missed medications, filthy conditions, lack of hygiene, and infection.

What to Do if You Suspect Mistreatment

A resident may be entitled to damages for nursing home abuse and/or neglect, including medical costs for treatment, emotional distress, and pain and suffering. In an abuse case, it is possible to pursue the employee who caused harm, but the facility may also be held accountable. A nursing home might also be liable for neglect, particularly with understaffing.

You are best able to leverage all legal remedies by following a few tips if you have concerns about mistreatment:

  • Get your loved one to a safe, stable environment right away, which may mean the hospital.
  • Report your concerns to administration at the assisted living facility.
  • If you observe intentional, physical abuse, call 911.
  • Contact Florida Department of Children and Families, which investigates abuse against elderly and vulnerable adults.

Contact a Miami Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Lawyer About Legal Options

It is also crucial to retain experienced legal counsel for assistance with your remedies, so please contact Gerson & Schwartz, PA to schedule a free case evaluation. You can reach our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach, FL at (305) 371-6000 or via our website. We can advise you on options after discussing your circumstances.

Florida Justice Association
The National Center for Victims of Crime
outh Florida Legal Guide
Contact Information