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Why a Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Case Isn't the Same as a Medical Malpractice Claim

upset seniorWhen elderly residents of nursing homes are the victims of improper medical care, neglect, or abuse, they can develop medical problems—some life-threatening—as a consequence of their treatment. How do you know what actually happened? There are key differences between medical malpractice and nursing home abuse and neglect cases.

How to Pursue the Right Claim

A nursing home resident could have a case which involves both abuse and medical malpractice claims. However, often these are separate claims, and it's a mistake to treat a nursing home abuse and neglect case like a medical malpractice claim. Important ways that these cases differ include:

  • Claims of negligence. In a medical malpractice case, the injured person is claiming his doctor negligently provided medical care, such as failure to diagnose his condition; administration of improper medication; or mistakes while performing surgery. In a nursing home abuse case, the claim is the resident suffered substandard care, abuse, or neglect over a period of time. In addition, there are many types of abuse and neglect, such as financial, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse.
  • Different liable parties. In a medical malpractice case, the claim is only against a few parties, such as one or more treating doctors and a hospital. In contrast, there could be numerous staff members and medical providers involved in a nursing home resident’s neglect and abuse. This increases the complexity of a nursing home case, and can result in the need to look at the nursing home’s policies and practices.
  • Different standard of care. In medical malpractice cases, the standard is whether the health care provider acted with the skill and care that a similarly-trained health care provider would have demonstrated in like circumstances. The standard administered by a nursing home staff is governed by the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA), which is federal regulation designed to ensure that elderly residents receive a certain level of care. For example, it requires nursing homes to ensure residents are treated with respect; provide assistance to those who need assistance with their basic needs; and prevent medication errors.


Determining whether you or your loved one has a medical malpractice or nursing home abuse and neglect claim—or both—can be complicated. An attorney experienced in handling both types of cases can help you decide which claim to pursue. If you or a family member suffered nursing home abuse or neglect, call our office today to schedule a free case evaluation with Alan Morton.