Nursing home workers and caretakers are tasked with the responsibility of taking care of elderly patients’ needs. However, sometimes nursing home staff members are negligent and fail to properly care for patients. But how can someone determine if the harm that came to a patient was intentional or unintentional? This blog will explore the fine lines between nursing home abuse and mistakes made by caretakers.

According to an article “Elder Abuse and Neglect,” written by Linda M. Woolf, Ph.D. of Webster University, “The difference between active and passive neglect lies in the intent of the caregiver. With active neglect, the caregiver intentionally fails to meet his/her obligations towards the older person. With passive neglect, the failure is unintentional; often the result of caregiver overload or lack of information concerning appropriate care giving strategies.”

So how can one tell if injuries elderly patients suffer are caused by unintentional mistakes or by intentional abuse? Try and answer the questions below to determine how hard it can be to differentiate between a mistake and abuse.

  • Leaving a heating pad on a patient too long, causing a horrible wound which led to skin graft surgery. Mistake or Abuse?
  • Leaving a patient in the same spot for too long, causing bed sores. Mistake or Abuse?
  • Leaving a resident lying on the ground after a fall because no one checked on that person. Mistake or Abuse?

It seems that neglect was at the center of these examples. Failing to check on patients, turning them regularly, checking for bed sores, and providing proper care can all be considered forms of abuse. While most people are aware of financial, emotional, sexual, and physical abuse, nursing home neglect is a type of abuse that is often forgotten about but is very real in nursing homes in Sarasota and nationwide. 

Because nursing home workers are humans, they are bound to make mistakes from time to time—especially if they are overworked. However, some caregivers just don’t care or want to purposely inflect harm onto patients they don’t like. In either event, the nursing home itself or the staff members could be held liable for injuries caused to patients. This is because nursing homes and their workers have a duty of care to provide to their patients—some of Florida’s most vulnerable citizens.

You can share this blog with your relatives by clicking a button to the left of the screen, and having others in your family answer these questions to make them aware of the potential for nursing home abuse.

Damian Mallard, Esq.
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Board Certified Sarasota Personal Injury Attorney
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