When a family member is placed in a nursing home facility, we expect them to receive the care they need and deserve. Unfortunately, these skilled nursing facilities do not always live up to that expectation and fail to keep the residents safe, and sometimes, the staff causes harm themselves with acts of physical abuse towards our elderly family members.


When an act of harm is deliberate, it is abuse, and that cannot be tolerated or allowed to continue. Physical abuse happens to be one of the most common forms of abuse that occurs in nursing homes in Florida, and the United States as a whole. Physical abuse happens most often with staff members who have been undertrained, or are on teams who are understaffed. This lack of staff makes it very frustrating to the nursing team who is trying to work with more patients than they can handle, and that frustration turns to staff lashing out towards the residents. Lashing out is the act of abuse that needs to be confronted and prevented. Whatever the excuse a staff member uses for their actions, the effects of physical abuse towards the elderly can leave lasting physical and emotional scars injuries as well as life threatening injuries that need to be addressed right away. Speak with a compassionate nursing home abuse attorney at Distasio Law Firm today.

The definition of Physical Abuse: the intentional or reckless use of physical force or physical coercion that may result in bodily injury, physical pain, or impairment. Physical abuse also embraces any unlawful, excessive, or unnecessary use of physical or chemical means to restrain or confine an elder, such as force-feeding and physical punishment.

Common Types of Physical Abuse in Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities

There are many types of physical abuse that our elderly loved ones may encounter during their stay in one of these skilled nursing facilities from staff or other residents. Forms of physical abuse in assisted living facilities may include but are not limited to:

  • Hitting
  • Slapping
  • Pinching
  • Kicking
  • Beating
  • Scratching
  • Bites
  • Burns
  • Threats
  • Physical restraints
  • Chemical Restraints (unnecessary sedation)

When you suspect your loved one has been a victim of physical abuse while residing in a nursing home or assisted living facility, whether it be by a staff member, another resident, or a visitor, consult with our nursing home attorneys in Florida right away. You may have the right to seek compensation for the injustice.

Warning Signs of Physical Abuse in Nursing Home Residents

When an elderly patient can say, “I have been abused”, family members should take that statement seriously and start an investigation immediately. Other times a patient is not able to speak up or they may be too scared to speak up and say they have been abused. This is when it takes the family members to stay diligent and check on their elderly family members, looking over their body, and looking for signs of abuse. If the staff will not allow you to be with your family members without supervision, this is cause for concern, and you should act right away.

An act of physical abuse is easier to spot than other forms of abuse. This is because you can see the marks on their body, or the change in their personality when they are near certain staff members. Keep an eye out for the signs of abuse by visiting often, and looking for telltale warning signs such as:

  • Withdrawn or isolating behavior
  • Unexplained and/or reoccurring injuries
  • Signs of restraint, such as bruising around wrists
  • Malnutrition or dehydration
  • Refusal to leave patient alone with family by medical staff.
  • Bruises, abrasions, welts, lacerations, or rope marks.
  • Head trauma and/or bone fractures.
  • Open wounds, cuts, punctures, untreated injuries in various stages of healing.
  • Sprains, dislocations, and internal injuries/bleeding.
  • Bite, strangulation, burn marks, or patterns of injury.
  • Falls, including broken eyeglasses or frames.
  • Physical marks on skin.
  • Medication overdose or chemical restraints.

Dementia and Disabled Residents Are More Vulnerable to Physical Abuse

Residents that are particularly vulnerable to suffering from physical abuse in our Florida assisted care facilities include dementia patients and physically disabled residents. Often times dementia patients are not aware of what is happening around them nor are they able to communicate their feelings or what is happening with others. These patients are often more physically demanding and can be resistant to the care a nursing home staff member is trying to give them. This can anger the staff and lead them to retaliate with acts of physical abuse including hitting, slapping, pushing, or even the use of restraints.

The physically disabled are also very vulnerable to being victims of physical abuse since they are not able to move themselves around take care of themselves. This constant need for help can cause frustrated employees to become violent towards the patients. Sometimes a disabled person does not have feeling in parts of their body and does not know they have been injured from the mishandling of them, so do make sure to check you r loved ones for marks and bruises to protect them from these atrocities.

Is It Ever Acceptable For Nursing Home Staff to Use Physical Force?

When staff in a nursing home is caring for your family members, there are no circumstances where their use physical force would be acceptable. Nursing home care givers are supposed to provide the health care and life care that they are not capable of providing for themselves. Nursing home staff members are trained, and should be trained on how to handle an elderly person with care. When a staff member finds themselves with a patient they are frustrated with, they should seek the help of other staff members to provide care for that resident. Sadly, we know this is not always the case, and when this happens, contact our nursing home abuse lawyers right away.

What to Do If You suspect Physical Abuse in a Nursing Home

First and foremost, make sure your loved one is safe. If they stay in that same nursing home, make sure the management has heard your complaint and is actively ensuring is never happens again and the abuser has been removed, and if this is not possible, move the resident to a different facility where they feel safe when it is not possible for them rejoin the family to maintain their health care needs.

Next, report your loved one’s abuse to the authorities. The State Agency for Health Care Administration, and Adult Protective Services. It is also wise to report abuse to your local law enforcement agency, either the police or sheriff’s department.

Next you should contact an experienced and determined nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer in Florida to represent your loved and family, investigate the abuse, and hold them accountable for they have done to cause harm and suffering to your loved one.

Call a Florida Attorney to Confront Physical Abuse Against Nursing Home Residents

If you believe your family member is a victim of physical abuse in any Florida nursing home or assisted living facility, immediately reach out to Distasio Law Firm. Your loved one or family may be entitled to compensation for the abuse. Scott Distasio and his expert nursing home abuse legal team can help to investigate the abuse, remove your loved one from the home, report the facility to authorities, and hold the abusive party accountable for their actions in a personal injury civil lawsuit.


Our main office is here in Downtown Tampa, Florida in the Channelside neighborhood. Office in Wesley Chapel and Largo are available by appointment only.

Distasio Law Firm