All those working on elder care issues understand that the vast majority of neglect goes unreported. This is a tragedy for two reasons. First, it means that individual seniors are forced to endure pain and suffering without help. Second, the under reporting means that more seniors in the future may be affected by neglect. That is because those who get away with mistreating seniors once are far more likely to do it again. Some caregivers who have a history of skirting requirements are often the ones found responsible for the most egregious cases of abuse and neglect.
For example, take a case out of California. We have already discussed the allegations against a woman who cared for ailing seniors in her own home. Headlines were made when the woman was charged with a felony following the death of one an 88-year old woman who was in her care. The senior had dementia and was under the woman’s care for five years. However, the quality of that care was suspect. That is because the woman developed incredibly serious (Stage IV) bedsores which ultimately led to her death.
Our neglect attorneys have worked on many cases where bedsores are at issue. Bed sores are almost always preventable, and when they arise, caregivers can be held responsible. Most of the time that responsibility comes in the form of civil lawsuits, which, for example, can provide financial compensation to those harmed. However, in more unique circumstances, those involved may also be punished criminally.
That is what happened in this case, as the caregiver who ran this facility is facing a felony. In one of the first such cases of its kind, the woman is now facing “involuntary manslaughter” charges. All told she may face up to twelve years in prison.
History of Problems
Since the initial filing, more and more information has been uncovered about the care provided at the home and the history of the woman now facing serious criminal charges. Perhaps not surprisingly, the woman was on the radar of the state’s department of social services for more than a decade and a half.
Amazingly, the woman was cited over forty times since 1996 for various care deficiencies and violations of state and federal caregiving rules. A Sacramento Bee story on the matter explains how more than half of those violations were “Type A” violations. These are the most serious mistakes which place the health and safety of seniors at risk. Yet, despite all of those problems, the state did not move to take away the woman’s license until after she was criminally charged with the death of her former client.
The case is a sad reminder that by the time a caregiver is actually held responsible for harmful conduct, on many occasions they have likely already harmed others without recourse. It is also a testament to the fact that state regulatory agencies cannot always be assumed to shut down poor facilities or care settings. The reality is that many negligent caregivers continue to provide services to vulnerable seniors.
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