Physical abuse is a severe and often humiliating form of nursing home abuse. Nursing home residents and their loved ones have the right to feel safe about day to day living in any managed care facility. Physical abuse involves any form of violence, rough handling, or negligence that results in physical pain and/or injury to a nursing home resident. Abuse can come from staff members, but can also come from other residents. Resident on resident violence (RRV) is a problem that staff members must work to correct and prevent whenever possible.
Indicators of Physical Abuse
Physical abuse, whether caused by staff members or other residents, is commonly identified through the following signs:
- Unexplained Bruises (pinch marks, rope/restraint marks, black eyes, neck bruises)
- Visible physical discomfort, agitation, attempting to hide/cover bruises
- Erratic behavior, withdrawal
- Sudden weight loss
- Refusing visits
Preventing Physical Abuse in Nursing Homes
Family or friends of a loved one residing in a nursing home should visit the facility as much as possible and watch for signs of abuse in their loved one and in others. Speak with staff about the home’s programs and procedures for handling RRV. Some RRV is unintentional, as patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease are unaware of the harm they may be causing. Talk with management about any concerns over violence or abuse. If physical abuse is suspected or evident at any point:
- Call 911 if the abuse is severe or life-threatening.
- For non-immediate abuse, get the resident evaluated in a hospital. Contact police if nursing home staff attempts to prevent a visit to the hospital. Also contact police if doctors confirm evidence of abuse.
- Contact the Florida Department of Elder Affairs and speak with a nursing home abuse lawyer.