Community Services and Long-Term Care: Issues of Negligence and Liability. What is Negligence


Negligence is a legal term which refers to the omission to do something which a reasonable person, guided by considerations which ordinarily guide human affairs would do, or the doing of something which a reasonable and prudent person would not do. Negligence is characterized chiefly by carelessness, thoughtlessness, inadvertence, inattention and other omissions. Negligence may be thought of as the failure to exercise ordinary care. It does not require willful, malicious, reckless or wanton behavior. Thus, avoidance of negligence is frequently a matter of exercising good common sense.

Avoiding negligence, as the examples in this manual illustrate, can involve providing proper training and supervision to employees, agents and volunteers, giving complete information to clients, family, and helpers, calling in professional help or making referrals when the situation requires it, or making certain that care and/or medication schedules are properly maintained when such are under the control of the agency or its agents.

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