According to the National Council on Aging, approximately five million Americans become victims of elder abuse annually. What is even more concerning is that it is likely underreported as it is estimated that only 1 out of every 23 cases of abuse is actually reported. Much of this abuse takes place in nursing homes, but what is the difference between nursing home abuse and neglect?
While neglect is classified as abuse, it is different than other types of nursing home abuse. The bottom line is, if you believe your loved one has been mistreated in a nursing home, it is time to reach out to an experienced Pennsylvania nursing home abuse lawyer for help.
Defining Elder Abuse in Nursing Homes
The United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines elder abuse as an intentional act that causes harm or serious risk to an elderly adult is elder abuse. Elder abuse can come in many different forms, all of which can take place in a nursing home. Types of elder abuse in nursing homes include:
- Physical abuse – the use of force against a senior to inflict unnecessary pain or injury, including restraining an elderly individual physically or chemically with medication or drugs
- Emotional or psychological abuse – which can range from ignoring the elderly person to intimidation or making threats. Causing an elderly individual emotional pain or distress by the way they are treated or spoken to is also abuse
- Sexual abuse – any type of non-consensual sexual act of any kind
- Financial abuse or exploitation – including the unauthorized taking, misuse or concealment of funds, property, or the assets of a senior
- Healthcare fraud or abuse – unethical doctors, nurses, hospital personnel, and other professional care providers have the ability to carry out this type of abuse. Financial abuse can include charging for care that was not given, overcharging for services or recommending fraudulent treatments for illness or conditions
If you have reason to believe your elderly family member is the victim of any of these types of abuse in a nursing home, a nursing home abuse attorney in Pennsylvania can help. Your loved one needs to be in a safe place and may be entitled to compensation for the suffering they endured.
Defining Neglect in Nursing Homes
Unlike abuse, which is an intentional act, elder neglect can be intentional or unintentional. Neglect occurs when caretaking obligations to the nursing home resident are not fulfilled. Neglect is much more common than abuse in nursing home settings. Examples of nursing home neglect include:
- Medical neglect – failing to address or prevent medical concerns such as bedsores, diabetes, infections, or cognitive disorders
- Basic needs neglect – failing to provide reasonable amounts of food or water or the failure to provide a clean and safe environment within the nursing home
- Personal hygiene neglect – failing to provide adequate assistance with hygiene such as brushing teeth, bathing, laundry, or combing hair
- Social/emotional neglect – Examples include repeatedly ignoring the elderly individual, leaving them alone or yelling at them
The Difference Between Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
While abuse and neglect are both severe forms of nursing home mistreatment, they are different. The main difference is that abuse is an intentional, deliberate act resulting in injury or serious risk to the nursing home resident. Abuse is often physical or emotional. Neglect is a type of abuse, but it is characterized by a lack of action to fulfill certain caretaking obligations.
Neglect can be either passive or active, depending on caregiver intent. If a caregiver is overwhelmed or undertrained, neglect may be unintentional as opposed to neglect resulting in an intentional lack of care and provision of needs.
Whether you suspect your loved one is the victim of abuse or neglect, you should call and report it to the authorities and a nursing home abuse lawyer in Pennsylvania as soon as possible. Your first priority will be ensuring the safety of your elderly loved one. Not only can an attorney help you ensure that your loved one is in a safe place, but they can also help you pursue justice on their behalf.
Criminal and Civil Penalties for Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Nursing home employees can face both criminal and civil penalties for abusing or neglecting those in their care. Suspected abuse and neglect should always be reported to local authorities so it can be adequately investigated, and criminal charges can be filed. Additionally, victims and their families should contact a seasoned Pennsylvania nursing home neglect lawyer who can craft a civil case to garner financial compensation for their suffering.
Criminal charges are independent of any civil lawsuits, although the outcome of the criminal charges can impact the results of a civil case. Criminal charges can lead to jail or prison time, fines, community service, and other criminal penalties. If nursing homes and their employees are found liable for the suffering of a plaintiff in a civil case, they can owe the plaintiff money for the damages they cause with the assistance of a skilled Pennsylvania nursing home neglect attorney.
Call a Compassionate Pennsylvania Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
Working in a nursing home can be understandably highly stressful and physically, emotionally, and mentally demanding. However, no matter how frustrating a situation or resident is in a nursing home is, abuse and neglect are never okay. Elderly Americans still deserve quality care and respect, especially from those who are paid to take care of them. Discovering that your loved one has been abused or neglected can be quite shocking and disappointing. You may feel very angry or betrayed, but you do have options.
A nursing home neglect lawyer in Pennsylvania from our firm is here to help and support you if you believe your family member is not being cared for in the manner that they should be in a nursing home. We can work to get to the bottom of the mistreatment given to your loved one and hold the liable parties accountable.