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Emotional abuse a crime in one state.

Wilmington, Delaware: Delaware is the only state in the nation that forbids emotional and physical abuse of nursing home patients.

In many states, people who physically assault patients are arrested under criminal assault charges -- but seldom if ever, are prosecuted for emotional abuse. Officials there justify the severe penalties because patients are usually handicapped mentally and physically, and the only protection they have is the state.

One particular case that occurred recently illustrates the concern with respecting human dignity. Two warrants were issued against nursing aides for violating the law by teasing an 86-year-old woman who was confined to a wheelchair at the Layton Home for the Aged in Wilmington.

The aides were charged with throwing towels at her, flicking water from behind and holding a flower pot over her head in ridicule and prodding the patient to commit an indecent act. Such cases were difficult to prosecute before the law was passed in 1986.

In the past, medical staff who abused patients in Delaware faced only disciplinary action from their employers, not criminal charges.
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Title Annotation:Delaware has law against physical and emotional abuse of nursing home patients
Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Date:Jun 22, 1991
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