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Nursing Home Abuse Case Leads to Charges Against Director

It took more than four years, but a judge has finally ruled there is enough evidence following the death of a 77-year-old patient to justify a criminal trial for nursing home abuse against the center’s former director of nursing.

Our Coconut Creek nursing home abuse lawyers know that loved ones of this woman have been waiting a long time, and we do hope justice is served.

Though this case happened in California, the fact is, incidents like this are by no means rare. Consider the following statistics culled from federal government sources:

–There were nearly 21,000 complaints of abuse, serious neglect and exploitation on behalf of nursing home patients as of 2003.
–The actual number of these incidents is in fact much higher, as only about 1 in 14 incidents of elder abuse are actually reported to authorities.
—More than 90 percent of nursing homes in the U.S. having staffing levels that are deemed too low to provide adequate care.
–Nursing homes across the country receive an annual $75 billion from state and federal governments, as well as approximately $34 billion from residents and families.

There is no reason why very basic standards of care cannot be met, which is what makes cases like this one so infuriating.

According to The Sacramento Bee, the elderly patient died less than two weeks after being admitted to the nursing home.

Prosecutors contend that the woman had a history of severe constipation, and that the nursing home staff blatantly ignored this, which resulted in fecal impaction that led to her death. This would have been a painful – and ultimately unnecessary – way to die.

The state alleges that the director and another nurse did not perform their duties in caring for the patient, and the head nurse in particular did not do an adequate job of supervising others who were providing care. The other nurse agreed to plead guilty last month to felony elder abuse. In exchange, she is likely to receive a suspended jail term for her cooperation in testifying against her former boss.

The defense has attempted to argue that the condition that led to the patient’s death was pre-existing, and that she was suffering even before she was admitted from the hospital to the nursing home.

However, doctors who reviewed her medical records found that there was a great deal of information missing. There were also entries that were written over, as well as unexplained notations. This has led doctors to conclude that the elderly woman received care that was substandard. As one doctor put it: It’s not a failure of documentation, it’s a failure of care.

Another nurse who worked at the nursing home testified that her boss had told her not to send the patient to the hospital, despite the fact that she was rapidly getting worse. That nurse said she was scared to defy her and had kept that information from investigators initially because she was worried about losing her job.

Of course, as the elderly woman’s loved ones know too well, there are worse things to be lost.

Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:
Head nurse to stand trial in connection with woman’s death at Cameron Park care facility, Nov. 28, 2012, By Marjie Lundstrom, The Sacramento Bee.

More Blog Entries:
Another Act of Nursing Home Abuse Caught on Tape, Nov. 5, 2012, Coconut Creek Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog.

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