Written by attorney Mitchell Scott Sexner

Causes and effects of nursing home abuse/neglect

Those who are residents of nursing homes or long-term care facilities are amongst the most vulnerable in our community. They may be senior citizens of advanced age or they may be handicapped, infirm or bed-ridden for any number of reasons. Some may be short–term residents and others may be long-term residents. But for whatever reason these patients reside in a nursing home, they all depend upon the kindness of doctors, nurses and other staff to help them not only maintain their dignity, but to assist with the day to day requirements of living. To imagine that medical staff could take part in the abuse or neglect of those so in need is unfathomable. To realize that such abuse and neglect is a common occurrence and not a rare event is nothing short of shocking. The main categories of abuse and neglect include:


  • Weight loss, dehydration, malnutrition
  • Bed sores
  • Patient unbathed or dirty
  • Unsafe conditions such as lack of water or heat
  • Unsanitary conditions such as dirty clothes, bugs or soiled sheets

Physical Abuse

  • Signs of restraints such as rope marks
  • Failure to give proper medication or patient given too much medication
  • Broken bones, dislocations or sprains
  • Refusal to allow family & friends to see patient alone

Sexual Abuse

  • Stained, torn or bloodied underclothes
  • Breast or genital bruising
  • Venereal or genital infections
  • Vaginal or anal bleeding

Emotional Abuse

  • Belittling, threating or controlling behavior by staff
  • Unusual behavior by patient such as rocking or mumbling

Financial Exploitation / Healthcare Fraud

  • Unexplained withdrawals from financial accounts
  • Missing items or unnecessary charges

- Duplicate or unnecessary billings for medical services

Nursing homes across the state have been cited for a wide range of violations from physical abuse to unsanitary living conditions to failures to provide for basic needs; and for every nursing home that has been cited, many others go unreported and unnoticed. Nursing home abuse has been referred to as “the hidden crime" because it often goes unrecognized by outsiders and those who are the victims of neglect or abuse often feel embarrassed or ashamed that others have such control and have taken advantage of them. So sometimes the victim does not report the abuse or neglect to even their family members. Other times, friends and family are unable to recognize the warning signs.

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