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When we send our loved ones to a nursing home or rehabilitation center, we do so with the expectation they will receive appropriate medical care and be treated with respect. Residents of long-term care facilities, however, all too often become victims of negligence, abuse, and neglect.

Do Massachusetts Laws Provide Protection to Nursing Home Residents?

In an effort to protect patients, Massachusetts has regulations governing long-term care facilities. 105 CMR 150.015 states that “All facilities shall provide for the comfort, safety and mental and physical well-being of residents.”

The federal government has also implemented statutory protections to preserve the rights of residents. 42 CFR section 483.10(a)(1) states that “[a] facility must treat each resident with respect and dignity and care for each resident in a manner and in an environment that promotes maintenance or enhancement of his or her quality of life, recognizing each resident’s individuality. The facility must protect and promote the rights of the resident.” These rights include:

  • The right to be fully informed of his/her/their total health status and medical condition;
  • The right to be informed of any changes in the plan of care;
  • The right to be free from physical and/or chemical restraint for the purposes of discipline or convenience;
  • The right to request, refuse, or discontinue treatment;
  • The right to receive visitors of his/her/their choosing;
  • The right to access personal and medical records;
  • The right to manage his/her/their financial affairs;
  • The right to personal privacy; and
  • The right to a safe, clean, comfortable, and home-like environment.

What Kinds of Injuries May be Caused by Negligence, Neglect, or Abuse?

Injuries among residents and patients receiving long-term care can take many forms. Some typical injuries are:

  • Bed/Pressure Sores: Bed sores are quite common and can be dangerous if they go untreated, as they can lead to infection, sepsis, and even death.
  • Falls and Fractures: Between 2018 and 2022, about half of all residents suffered a fall per year in Massachusetts. About 1 out of 4 falls result in broken bones or head injuries.
  • Malnutrition or Dehydration: Causes may include inadequate staffing, lack of individualized care, lack of oral care, or unpleasant/unappetizing food.
  • Medication Errors: Errors may include giving the incorrect medication to a patient, giving a patient an incorrect dosage of medication, or giving a patient medication that was not prescribed to them.
  • Physical, Sexual, and/or Mental Abuse: Unlike negligence, abuse is the willful infliction of harm. This abuse may be inflicted by nursing staff or other residents in the facility. It is important to look out for warning signs, such as cuts, bruises, or broken bones, unexplained sexually transmitted diseases, or unexplained weight loss.

How Long Do I have to File a Claim Against a Nursing Home?

Most claims brought against nursing homes are categorized as a medical-malpractice claim. Generally, a person has three years from the date of injury to bring a claim. However, in cases of wrongful death, Massachusetts General Law chapter 229, section 2 states that the statute of limitations is three years from the date of injury OR three years from the date of when the executor or administrator of the estate knew or should have known about the cause of the wrongful death. If a claim involves an allegation of sexual abuse, the statute of limitations may differ.

How Can I Report Wrongdoing?

If you are concerned about care provided by a nursing home or other health care facility, you may always report the problem to the facility itself. If you are seeking additional resources, Massachusetts has a Consumer/Resident/Patient Complaint Form found on the website, that can be submitted to the Department of Public Health. The Department will then review the facts of your complaint to see if the facility violated State and Federal regulations.

If you or someone you love has been injured or mistreated while in a nursing home, you may be able to make a claim for damages. If you wish to speak to one of our attorneys about your potential claim, please fill out a Contact Form , call us at (617) 542-1000 or email us at