Nursing Home Abuse Laws

Pennsylvania and New Jersey have strict laws about nursing home abuse. Federal requirements from the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of ’87 and state regulations from the Pennsylvania Department of Health provide for resident rights that each nursing home must honor. These laws prohibit the abuse or mistreatment of a resident and require facilities to treat residents with dignity and respect. When nursing homes fail to obey these laws, a nursing home abuse lawyer can help seek justice by filing a civil lawsuit against the nursing home and its owners.

Statistics about Nursing Home Abuse

Nursing home Abuse is unfortunately a common reality in our nation’s nursing homes. Numerous studies demonstrate that elder abuse in nursing homes occurs much too frequently and puts our nation’s seniors at risk. Some statistics about  nursing home abuse include:


Nursing Home Abuse Laws

Section §483.12 in the State Operations Manuals states that a resident has the right to be free from abuse, neglect, misappropriation of resident property, and exploitation. This includes but is not limited to freedom from corporal punishment, involuntary seclusion and any physical or chemical restraints not needed to treat medical symptoms. Additionally, a facility must not employ an individual who has been found guilty of abuse or neglect, or had a finding registered on the nurse aide registry or professional licensing board for abuse. This means that facilities must perform background checks on employees to assure resident safety. The facility must provide competent oversight and monitoring to ensure the implementation of these policies and protection of the residents.

Each facility must have written policies on abuse that include:

  • Screening – nursing homes must screen potential employees for a history of abuse or neglect. This screening also applies to volunteers and contract staff.
  • Training – nursing homes must train on abuse prevention, identification, and signs of abuse, and reporting. Also required is training of management of behavioral symptoms.
  • Prevention – A facility must establish a safe environment, identify and correct situations that may induce abuse, and provide services to assure that residents are free of neglect and receive access to the care and services they require. This category includes a requirement that facilities provide trained, qualified staff on each shift in sufficient numbers to meet the needs of the resident.
  • Identification – A facility must have procedures to help staff identify abuse and neglect, including indicators and outcomes that may point to abuse as having occurred.
  • Investigation – A nursing home must investigate all allegations of abuse; identify and interview alleged perpetrators, witnesses and victims; and provide complete and thorough documentation of the investigation.
  • Protection – A nursing home must act immediately to protect abuse victims, keep them free from retaliation from reporting the abuse, and provide emotional support as needed.
  • Reporting – facilities must have policies that outline steps to report the alleged violations, including to state agencies, adult protective services, and law enforcement as required.

Reporting of Crimes in Nursing Homes

Sometimes, an alleged act of abuse, neglect, or misappropriate of property and exploitation is considered a suspicion of a crime. In these cases, nursing homes have additional reporting obligations. Nursing homes have obligations for reporting crimes under “Reporting Reasonable Suspicion of a Crime in a Long-Term Care Facility: Section 1150B of the Social Security Act. Covered individuals under this act include owners, operators, employees, managers, agents, or contractors of the facility. Examples of abuse that would likely qualify as a crime includes assault, sexual abuse, theft, identify theft, and drug diversion.

The Elder Justice Act applies to nursing homes that receive federal funds. Covered individuals are required to report reasonable suspicion of a crime against any resident in the facility and file reports to both the Department of Aging and Local Law Enforcement.


How Do I Report Nursing Home Abuse?

If you believe that your loved one is suffering from nursing home abuse, it’s important to speak up and help protect them. Reporting can vary from state to state, but below are helpful infographics on steps you can take to report abuse in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. All states have laws that prevent the facility from retaliating against you or your loved one for a report of abuse. Additionally, a nursing home abuse lawyer can help advocate for your family and make sure that your loved one’s rights are upheld. Below are some quick guides you can use to report nursing home abuse in Pennsylvania or New Jersey.



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