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The difference between nursing home neglect and abuse

The number of elderly residents in Pennsylvania nursing homes that suffer neglect is alarming. Nursing home abuse is a form of neglect; however, there is a distinct difference between the two. While caregivers typically commit abuse with the intention to cause harm, nursing home neglect is the provision of substandard care. The patient suffers harm due to the breach of duty rather than intent to injure.

Nursing home neglect typically involves different types of negligence. Medical neglect happens when caregivers fail to provide the necessary medical care to prevent complications such as infections, bed sores and other maladies. Neglecting the basic needs of a patient is a second type that involves the failure to provide sufficient food and water and a safe and clean environment.

Many nursing home residents can no longer manage their own hygiene routines, and when caregivers fail to assist with bathing, washing hair, cleaning teeth and other such activities, they make themselves guilty of personal hygiene neglect. Then there is emotional or social neglect that occurs when a resident is ignored or left alone for long periods -- or the opposite when an overstressed caregiver yells at the patient consistently. Family members would be wise to be observant and look for tell-tale signs of neglect when they visit relatives in a nursing home.

Pennsylvania residents who suspect their loved ones are exposed to nursing home neglect may be unsure which steps to take. A consultation with an attorney who is experienced in protecting the rights of elderly residents in nursing homes may provide the necessary advice. A lawyer can assist with investigating the circumstances at the facility, and if there are grounds for a lawsuit, he or she can provide the necessary guidance and support throughout the ensuing legal proceedings.

Source:, "Negligence in Nursing Home Homes", Christine Traxler, Accessed on Jan. 5, 2018

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