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Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit Alleges Aide Contributed to Patient’s Death

A lawsuit filed in New York’s Supreme Court alleges a nursing home facility staffer’s abuse may have contributed to the woman’s death less than a month later.
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In Jones v. Hudson Park Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, the family is seeking $2 million in compensation after an aide reportedly broke the elderly dementia sufferer’s arm, and the fracture went untreated for 12 hours, despite her desperate pleas for help throughout that time.

West Palm Beach nursing home abuse attorneys have learned an investigation revealed the aide was upset because she was asked to work an additional five hours beyond her regular shift because there was no one else to cover her duties.

The aide reportedly smacked the patient in the face with an incontinence brief, at which time the patient swung back and struck the aide in her face. As punishment, the aide reportedly bent the patient’s arm behind her back, causing it to break.

At the time of the incident, the patient had only been a resident of the facility for four months. Prior to that, she had been receiving care from a home health aide will living in her sister’s home.

The patient died 29 days after the incident.

While the aide is certainly responsible for her own actions – and indeed, has pleaded guilty to a single, second-degree felony count of endangering the welfare of a vulnerable elderly person – the circumstances that led to this situation are present in facilities throughout the country. Specifically, it’s the issue of under-staffing.

The aide in this case took out her frustration of having to work overtime hours on a helpless, vulnerable adult, which is a criminal act. But many times, lapses in care amounting to negligence occur for the same reason this worker became angry. When for-profit nursing homes try to bolster their bottom lines by reducing their staff (often the largest cost in running one of these facilities) greater responsibilities are hoisted onto the backs of fewer workers.

Even employees who don’t purposely harm their patients may end up doing so when they are overworked and don’t have the necessary resources and support to provide proper care.

Not only does it appear that under-staffing issues contributed to the actual abuse, it seems to have also been one of the factors in the subsequent delay of care the woman received for her fractured arm. The injured patient pleaded with two nursing supervisors about the severe pain in her arm. But the supervisors were reportedly busy catching up on a large work load, and did not immediately respond to address her concerns. If they had, they might have noticed the arm was fractured.

Records provided from the state investigation do not provide any indication that the fracture contributed to the woman’s death. However, that’s what’s alleged in the lawsuit, which indicates the abuse she suffered caused her to become seriously injured, suffer severe pain and, ultimately, death.

An attorney for the family explained that after the incident, the patient stopped eating almost entirely. She groaned in pain and repeatedly acted out. this was a woman who herself had been a career caregiver, working at the very same hospital where she would later die.

Authorities indicated the cause of death was a pulmonary embolism.

As the family attorney explained, a person suffering from dementia is often unable to recoup from a traumatic incident such as this. They can’t understand. They become depressed. They become anxious and fearful. They often decline rapidly. According to the lawsuit, the family states she never recovered from the injury.

In its complaint, the family seeks restitution and funeral expenses, as well as punitive damages from the nursing home.

The defendant has yet to respond to the complaint.

Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:
Family seeks $2 million after woman’s nursing home death, May 20, 2014, By Lauren Stanforth, Times Union

More Blog Entries:
Florida Nursing Home Beating Victim Dies, May 20, 2014, West Palm Beach Nursing Home Lawyer Blog

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