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An Overview of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect in the U.S.

Posted on September 13, 2013 in


Duncan Law Group 


The term “nursing home abuse” can refer to a wide variety of negligent and abusive actions. Under the umbrella term “elder abuse,” nursing home abuse / neglect generally refers to any form of mistreatment suffered by a patient in a convalescent home. This includes harmful act or lack of appropriate action that compromises a patient’s quality of care, health, or wellbeing.

Nursing home abuse is distinct from – but associated with – elder abuse, patient abuse, and certain forms of medical malpractice.

According to the National Center of Elder Abuse (NCEA), the first federal reference to this type of neglect appeared in 1987 in the Amendments to the Older Americans Act. Although the act did not provide a specific definition of abuse, it provided guidelines that would evolve into the full understanding of elder abuse that we have today.

Types of Elder Abuse

Today, the exact definition of elder abuse varies between jurisdictions, but most states acknowledge two types of abuse: domestic elder abuse and institutional abuse. In short, domestic abuse occurs in the victim’s home, while institutional abuse / neglect occurs in nursing homes, care facilities, hospitals, retirement homes, etc. While most allegations of abuse are made against the victim’s caregiver, domestic abuse is typically committed by a relative or family member; institutional abuse usually applies to professional caregivers.

NCEA names six types of elder abuse:

  • Physical
  • Sexual
  • Financial
  • Abandonment
  • Neglect
  • Emotional

Neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse are often seen in nursing homes, while financial abuse and abandonment are usually associated with the victim’s family members.

How to Identify Nursing Home Abuse

Nursing home abuse is characterized by a wide-variety of symptoms, depending on the type of mistreatment. Signs of physical abuse include broken bones, bruising, abrasions, and burns. Emotional abuse is often symptomized by social withdrawal, behavioral changes, unexplained changes in the victim’s normal habits, and unwarranted depression.

Neglect (mistreatment that occurs when a caretaker fails to take action) is often characterized by bed sores, poor hygiene, rapid weight loss, and untended medical problems.

Nursing Home Abuse: Victims’ Rights

Victims of nursing home abuse have rights. If you placed your spouse, grandparent, or elderly loved one in a nursing home, you have reasonable expectations that the home will not fail to provide the attention and care that your loved one needs. If you suspect that your loved one was mistreated in a nursing home, you can pursue financial compensation for their suffering through a personal injury claim or lawsuit.

Elder abuse is a serious concern in the U.S. and many states have laws that specifically it as a criminal act; however, the law doesn’t always provide the justice that victims of abuse deserve. Depending on the nature of your case, your loved one may be entitled to money for medical expenses and noneconomic damages. With the help of a personal injury lawyer, you can file a claim or lawsuit on behalf of your loved one to collect the damages the he / she needs and deserves.

At Duncan Law Group, you can find the compassionate, skilled, and experienced legal guidance need to file a successful nursing home abuse claim. Duncan Law Group is a Chicago-based law firm that serves clients throughout the state of Illinois and has recovered tens of millions of dollars in successful case settlements and jury verdicts – let Attorney Bob Duncan put this experience to work for you. Speak with a member of the firm today by calling (312) 202-3283 and request a free consultation regarding your case.

Duncan Law Group:
161 N. Clark,
Suite 2550
Chicago, IL 60601

For more information about nursing home abuse, speak with an experienced Chicago nursing home abuse attorney.