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Fatal Nursing Home Neglect of WWII Vet Spurs Criminal Charges

Nursing home neglect occurs when elderly and/ or vulnerable residents of a long-term care facility receive substandard care. Caregivers who fail to ensure patients basic needs, personal hygiene or medical care is up to appropriate standards face potential civil liability for any harm that results. In some cases, it may also lead to criminal charges. You should know that the criminal justice system has a higher proof burden and the two cases are handled completely separate, which means regardless of whether a criminal case results from your loved one’s nursing home neglect, you may still have grounds to pursue civil litigation against the assistants, nurses, doctors and facility administrators.

One recent alleged case of nursing home neglect in Georgia made national headlines, with plaintiffs in a wrongful death lawsuit saying the 89-year-old WWII veteran died desperately begging for help that never came.

According to The Washington Post, the family placed a hidden camera in the room because they were anxious about him living in the nursing home. The man’s son later said his father was aware the camera had been installed in his room, but staffers were not. Now, it has become a key piece of evidence in the criminal case against two nurses and an aide who have been indicted on several charges, including murder and neglect.

The camera shows the veteran tossing one leg over the edge of his bed and gasping for air. He called out for help several times. He pushed his call button, yelling out repeatedly for someone to come to his aid. The video shows one staffer coming in to check on him and then leaving. Several minutes later, another worker finds the man unconscious. It was nearly an hour after that the staffers reportedly called 911. There is also a moment wherein nurses trying to get the breathing machine to work that they are seen laughing and trading barbs as the man is dying.

Police investigated the case, ultimately resulting in several grand jury indictments: One LPN is charged with felony murder and neglect of an elderly person. Another LPN is accused of depriving an elderly person of essential services. A nursing assistant is charged with neglect of an elderly person.

Alongside the criminal case, family members have also filed a wrongful death lawsuit for nursing home neglect, seeking accountability for the facility’s wrongdoing.

Several local news outlets picked up the story and aired clips of the hidden camera footage, following a judge’s release of it after the defendant nursing home attempted to have it sealed. It has since made national news.

During a sworn deposition of the nursing supervisor who was on duty that night, she testified it did appear based on the video the elderly resident was struggling to breathe. She conceded this was an emergency situation. When asked how viewing the video made her feel, she responded with a single word: “Sick.” This same supervisor had indicated in medical records that she and another nurse performed CPR on the man until EMS arrived. However, video of the incident shows no one even touching the man’s chest, let alone performing CPR, for several minutes upon discovering him unconscious.

The nurses involved have since surrendered their nursing license. No trial date has been set.

Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.

Additional Resources:

Nursing home workers charged after a WWII vet was left alone to die, Feb. 22, 2018, By Lindsey Bever and Avi Selk, The Washington Post

More Blog Entries:

Report: Florida’s Worst Nursing Homes Remain Open, March 7, 2018, Orlando Nursing Home Neglect Attorney Blog

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