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Common Signs of Nursing Home Neglect or Abuse

Nursing home abuse happens every day in Tennessee. It is an unfortunate fact that the number of nursing home negligence cases is increasing. Partly, this is due to a larger Tennessee nursing home population as Americans are living longer. Partly, this neglect and abuse is due to large, private companies purchasing Tennessee nursing homes and not providing adequate staff, training, or resources. Though finding any single cause for the nationwide rise in abuse is simplistic, nursing home neglect and abuse in Tennessee or anywhere should not be tolerated.

With nearly two million Americans living in long-term care facilities, Congress has enacted federal nursing home regulations. Those regulations provide that a nursing home resident “has the right to be free from verbal, sexual, physical, and mental abuse, corporal punishment, and involuntary seclusion.” The regulations also define nursing home abuse and neglect.

Abuse: An intentional infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation, care/service deprivation or punishment that results in physical harm, pain or mental anguish

Neglect: A failure, intentional or not, to provide a person with the care and services necessary to ensure freedom from harm or pain; a failure to react to a potentially dangerous situation resulting in resident harm or anxiety.

The first step in preventing Tennessee nursing home abuse is to know the signs. Nursing home abuse can be physical, emotional, or simple negligence. Whatever the form, nursing home abuse should be reported. Some common warning signs that could indicate abuse or neglect at a Tennessee nursing home are:


  • Unexplained Falls
  • Broken bones
  • Bedsores
  • Dehydration
  • Loss of weight or appetite
  • Wounds, broken skin, or bruises
  • Other possible physical abuse


  • Any sudden behavioral change
  • Any unusual behavior
  • Self-Abuse
  • Agitation
  • Becoming withdrawn or refusing to communicate
  • Reluctance to speak in front of staff members


  • Skin discoloration, including red or dark areas (bedsores)
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Medication withheld or excess given
  • Incorrect body position
  • Lack of assistance with eating and drinking
  • Unsanitary and unclean conditions
  • Dirt, soiled bed, fecal or urine odor
  • Frequent illness, and the illness is not promptly reported to the physician and family
  • Rapid weight loss or weight gain; other signs of malnutrition
  • Infections

If any of these warning signs of abuse or neglect exist, you should make a formal complaint with the Tennessee nursing home’s staff and maintain a record of this complaint. If signs exist, or if your Tennessee loved one mentions abuse or repeated neglect, you should seek the guidance of one of The Higgins Firm’s qualified Tennessee nursing home abuse lawyers. We put our clients first in everything that we do. We will work with you to gather evidence including insurance information, medical records, and more to help you make the best case for your claim. We stand steadfast by our clients and will fight for your claim.

Have You Signed an Arbitration Agreement?

In 2017, nursing homes that accepted Medicare and Medicaid were prohibited from forcing residents into signing arbitration agreements. The reason for this was that it was detrimental to the wellbeing of residents. In 2019, a new rule took effect. This did allow arbitration agreements for Medicaid and Medicare holders, but prohibits nursing homes from requiring residents to sign it in for admission. It also prohibited the use of any language that prevented residents from contracting state or federal authorities.

That being said, there are a number of residents who have signed an arbitration agreement. As a Chattanooga nursing home lawyer, many of our prospective clients have concerns about arbitration agreements. This is because a number of nursing home facilities require residents to sign an arbitration agreement before they can move in. These agreements might state various guidelines including things such as:

  • If a dispute arises, it must be settled through arbitration.
  • Everything must remain confidential.
  • The plaintiff will be responsible for their own legal fees.

If you signed an arbitration agreement, but believe abuse or neglect has occurred in a nursing home, you should still consult a nursing home abuse lawyer in Chattanooga, Tennessee. At The Higgins Firm we can review your agreement and talk with you about any potential options available. It is certainly possible that there are legal measures you can take to protect your interests and rights.

Would You Like to Speak with The Higgins Firm About Your Case?

For more information on Tennessee nursing home abuse, our Nashville law offices online or call us at 800.705.2121 for a free consultation to discuss your legal options.

What Our Clients Say
When my mother was neglected in a nursing home I was referred to The Higgins Firm for help. They did a great job representing my family and obtained a significant settlement. Hopefully, this will keep someone else's parent from being mistreated in the future. Angie S.
I have a large collection practice and don't handle personal injury cases. Instead of simply declining a case, I referred it to The Higgins Firm. They handled everything. My client got a large recovery and I got a large co-counsel fee. The client and I were both very happy. Attorney Bo Melton
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