What Are the Punishments for Nursing Home Neglect?

When it comes to abuse in nursing homes, there’s more to it than elderly residents suffering physical or emotional abuse at the hands of their caretakers. While those situations are not to be taken lightly and should be acted upon immediately, neglect is often misunderstood and underreported. Many people may not understand what neglect looks like, what actions they should take, and how a nursing home can be held responsible.

What Is Nursing Home Neglect?

State laws regarding nursing home neglect vary from state to state, but they generally encompass the failure of nursing home staff to provide the following:

  • Appropriate measures to ensure good hygiene
  • Adequate food and hydration to avoid malnutrition or dehydration
  • Medical care and services in a timely manner
  • Appropriate supervision to monitor their needs
  • A safe place to stay that is protected from outside elements
  • Clothing that is suitable for the weather and conditions

These are basic rights that nursing home residents are entitled to. While nursing homes can face legal ramifications for purposely denying residents these rights, they can also be guilty of self-neglect if they allow residents to deny these rights to themselves. A resident who doesn’t want to eat, for example, must have measures taken to ensure that they get adequate nutrition. Allowing them to continue to not eat while not doing anything to improve the situation is just as bad as if you were denying them food yourself.

Criminal Charges Vs. Civil Charges

When it comes to neglect in nursing homes, there are different types of laws that apply, based on the degree of neglect. Minor incidents may not violate a law. For example, if someone accidentally misses a resident’s bath for the day because they had to tend to an emergency with another patient, this probably wouldn’t lead to lawful ramifications. If the behavior started to become consistent or repetitive, however, this could result in civil penalties from the state.

Civil charges can lead to penalties such as:

  • Monetary penalty fines
  • Removing residents from their care
  • Appointing other managers to oversee operations
  • Utilizing assessors that are independent of the facility
  • Denial of government payments to the facility

When nursing home neglect is so extreme that it violates criminal laws, convicted individuals may serve a large chunk of time in prison for their actions. These are usually cases where the neglect was intentional.

If you or someone you love has been abused or neglected while in a nursing home, seek legal advice from a qualified nursing home attorney, like a nursing home lawyer in Philadelphia, PA. Elder abuse is a serious crime and you shouldn’t have to go through it alone.

Thank you to the experts at Wieand Law Firm for their insight into nursing home law.


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