Elder Neglect: Medical Malpractice or Elder Abuse

Due to impaired cognition, isolation, and limited mobility, the elderly are the most vulnerable population of patients in our medical system. Elderly patients are subject to abuse, neglect, or exploitation at the hands of professional or family caregivers. Elder neglect is a problem within the medical system; however, it is important to know if the neglect is medical malpractice or elder abuse and how to seek compensation for your loved one. 

Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or other medical professional fails to meet the standard of care that is recognized across the profession or, in their negligence, commits a medical error and harms the patient. Commons medical malpractice claims result from a medical professional failing to diagnose a condition, incorrectly diagnosing a condition, or providing the wrong prescription.

Elder Abuse

Elder abuse is a willful action that results in injury to an elderly individual and can be considered both a crime and a civil offense. For the action to be considered abuse, the action must be considered more than negligent or deliberate, depending on the jurisdiction where the abuse occurred.  Elder abuse typically occurs in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, or during in-home care and is a conscious choice made by the practitioner to ignore or knowingly and negligently break policies that are meant to protect the patients they care for.

Types of Elder Abuse

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse occurs when a caretaker intentionally inflicts physical harm or injury on the elderly patient.

Emotional Elder Abuse

Emotional elder abuse is the result of yelling, humiliating, threatening, or terrorizing an elderly patient.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is any form of unwanted sexual contact by an caretaker with an elderly patient without their consent. 

Neglect

Neglect occurs when a caretaker fails to fulfill their obligations either intentionally or unintentionally.

Signs of Elder Neglect

If an elderly loved one’s mental, physical or financial well-being begins to suddenly change, it might be a warning that they are experiencing abuse. Specifics signs of elder neglect also include:

Unexplained injuries or bruises

Sudden weight loss or malnourishment

Poor hygiene

Symptoms of anxiety, depression, or confusion

Becoming withdrawn or sudden acts of violence

Display signs of trauma, such as rocking back and forth

 

If your loved one shows one or more of these signs, it may be time to step in a report the potential mistreatment and abuse.

Medical Malpractice or Elder Abuse

The first step to seeking compensation for an elderly loved one is to determine if your claim is best filed as a medical malpractice claim or a claim of elder abuse. To be able to file a medical malpractice claim, you must be able to show that your loved one’s medical professional failed to meet a reasonable standard of care. For elder abuse you must be able to prove that your loved one’s caretaker was intentionally malicious or negligent in their care. It is not always easy to determine which course of action would be best and it is encouraged to consult an attorney to understand your options.

 

When a nursing home, assisted living facility or hospital fails to provide adequate care, a patient may be able to recover damages. If you believe an elderly family member has been the victim of elder abuse or medical malpractice, please contact us to discuss your options for compensation.