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Differences between nursing home abuse, neglect and negligence

Any abusive behavior in a nursing facility is a horrible act. In some cases, the abuse is obvious, but it might not be so easy to spot when it comes to things like neglect and negligence. Knowing the difference can help.

The difference between nursing home abuse, neglect and negligence can be a bit confusing. There are a few important distinctions when it comes to these terms.


Nursing home abuse is both an individual and a blanket term. Physical, sexual, and emotional are terms for types of abuse. This is the violent or cruel treatment of a person, meaning a single person is responsible. The term abuse is also an umbrella term. It can cover all types, including neglect and negligence.


Neglect is the term for when staff does not meet the basic needs of the patient. It can also mean that a nursing home is treating them with substandard care. Neglect is often seen when a nursing home does not have enough staff. It falls under the abuse blanket but the person causing it can be an individual or an organization. Neglect is usually the failure to do something at all.


Negligence is another term that falls under the umbrella of abuse. An organization or an individual is capable of being guilty of negligence. Although it is not a lesser offense, crimes of negligence are usually a failure to do something properly rather than failure to do something at all. In many cases to prove negligence, you also have to prove knowledge and intent.

Knowing the differences between nursing home abuse, neglect and negligence can help identify what is going on behind closed doors.

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