For nursing home patients, bowel impaction can be the result of continuous neglect and repeated failures of appropriate action, rather than a single act or omission. Bowel impaction occurs after prolonged constipation resulting from a hardened stool stuck in the rectum or a problem with the colon which results in a similar issue. Other complications with that sensitive area may develop if the problem is not promptly addressed. Typical symptoms of fecal impaction may include abdominal pain and distention, nausea, vomiting, and a lack of appetite. Fecal impaction can be the result of poor nutrition and dehydration, as well as a side effect of some drugs.


A hardened stool can be removed by manual disimpaction, which requires the use of a glove and lubricant. Alternatively, a hardened stool can be removed with enemas or softened with suppositories. Once the hard stool is removed, the colon should be evaluated for any problems that might have caused the impaction.

Implications for Negligence and Abuse

Many nursing home patients are susceptible to impacted bowels where a facility’s caretakers are understaffed or inattentive. Nursing homes are responsible for providing proper nutrition and hydration, including fiber, water, and healthy foods that keep residents from having painful constipation. Bowel movements should be monitored with regard to timing, quantity, and consistency. Undiagnosed fecal impactions can lead to infection and if left further untreated, to sepsis or blood poisoning. Even if fecal impactions do not in themselves develop into a serious problem or injury, impactions may indicate facility’s systematic failures, such as poor provision for nutrition or monitoring procedures. These failures demonstrate a facility’s unwillingness to provide quality care for its residents.

If you or a loved one has experienced a bowel impaction please do not hesitate to call. Our attorneys can identify signs of neglect and abuse and seek to right the wrongs that your loved one may have incurred at a care facility.

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