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Can nursing home neglect be considered criminal?

On Behalf of | Feb 1, 2023 | Blog, Nursing Home Negligence

Many New Mexico residents have elderly loved ones in nursing homes so they can get specialized care. Sadly, nursing home neglect is a serious concern for some. There is sometimes confusion over whether this type of neglect is legal or even criminal.

Understanding nursing home neglect

Nursing home neglect can take many forms. Usually, it involves some type of inappropriate level of care that leads to harm. Elderly residents can suffer neglect when they don’t get enough food or hygienic services or when they are inadequately supervised by nursing home staff. They can also suffer if they don’t get the medical care they need in a timely manner or are left in soiled bedclothes or bedding.

Nursing home neglect is a civil violation

Although nursing home neglect is not considered legal, it’s also usually not a criminal manner. Instead, it’s civil because it’s most often not deliberate and happens because of problems in the nursing home. Facilities suffering from short-staffing are most likely to have issues of nursing home neglect. Too few staff are assigned to care for multiple residents but don’t have enough time or resources to fulfill their jobs to the best of their ability.

When the nursing home itself fails to abide by its obligations and willfully violates federal and state laws, it could be subject to civil penalties. The most common include fines, Medicaid and Medicare restrictions and losing residents as they get moved to different facilities that comply with the law.

In some cases, a nursing home might be guilty of criminal behavior due to intent and outrageous actions. This usually applies when the actions or inactions perpetrated by the facility or its staff result in serious bodily injury or death.

All nursing home residents deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. If your loved one has suffered, you might have to be their voice.


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