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Nursing Home Abuse: Your Legal Options

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. | Last updated on

Many Americans move into nursing homes so that they will be well-cared for, even later in life. But sometimes the care they are supposed to receive turns into nursing home neglect or nursing home abuse.

Signs of neglect can be difficult to spot. Residents may show symptoms of dehydration or malnutrition. Bedsores may appear.

What rights do nursing home residents (and their families) have?

Nursing home rights vary by the type of facility.

Under federal law, there are four different types of facilities that care for the elderly. Specifically, there are adult boarding facilities, residential care facilities, intermediate care facilities and skilled nursing facilities.

Different regulations govern each type of facilities. Regardless, nursing home residents are generally entitled to live free from verbal, sexual, physical and mental abuse. Residents are also entitled to be free from physical or chemical restraints if used for disciplinary purposes and not as a part of a medical treatment.

Nursing homes must have policies prohibiting mistreatment and neglect.

Nursing home residents are entitled to receive a notice, prior to admission, explaining what specific rights and services they are entitled to. These rights may include the right to privacy, the right to have family visitors, and the right to refuse treatment. Residents must be periodically updated of these rights during their stay at the nursing facility.

Nursing home residents can report instances of neglect and abuse.

All states have a reporting system that allows victims of abuse and neglect to file claims and get their case investigated. If the abuse or neglect is proven, the investigatory authority will try to remedy the situation. Severe cases may also result in criminal charges.

Nursing home residents and their families can also file their civil suits for monetary damages in cases of nursing home abuse or nursing home neglect. Finding a nursing home abuse attorney in your area may help answer some of the legal questions you may have if you or a loved one is a victim of abuse.

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