An LPN in Philadelphia was arrested today over the death of H.R. McMaster Sr., an Army veteran and the father of former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster.
McMaster Sr. was staying at Cathedral Village, a senior living community, to recover and receive rehabilitation following a stroke. He arrived at the facility on April 9th and by April 13th he was gone, dead from blunt force trauma suffered from a fall. He was 84 years old.
Nurse Charged with Manslaughter
Cathedral Village’s own policy dictated that staff should routinely monitor for cognitive changes in residents who are a known fall risk. Mr. McMaster Sr. was alone just before midnight on April 12th when he fell in his room and hit his head. A CNA found him and reported it to Christann Shyvin Gainey, an LPN working at Cathedral Village via General Health Care Resources, one of the largest nursing and allied health staffing agencies on the east coast.
Instead of following protocol and performing regularly scheduled checks for neurological impairment, Ms. Gainey left him in a wheelchair in the hallway where he ultimately died in the early hours of April 13.
In order to cover up her failure to do her job, Ms. Gainey changed Mr. McMaster’s records to indicate that she had performed multiple neurological assessments, including one performed nearly 20 minutes after he had died. She admitted to supervisors that she had falsified documents to look like she had performed 8 checks in order to save her fellow nurses from having to do them. Security camera footage verified that Gainey performed none of those checks on Mr. McMaster.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a press conference that Christann Gainey is being charged with involuntary manslaughter, neglect of a care-dependent person and records tampering. He went on to say that a family should never have to hear that their elderly loved one died alone in a hallway. Shapiro commented “This nurse ignored her job responsibilities, falsified paperwork, lied to her supervisors and neglected Mr. McMaster, who died.”
It is unclear if the family intends to pursue civil action against the nursing home.
Falls Deaths Can Be Prevented
The elderly are at risk for falls even without the presence of a physical, mental, or health condition. As we age, our vision begins to worsen, we lose strength, agility, and sense of balance, and we are more likely to be taking medications that may also impair our ability to safely move around. When a nursing home resident has a health condition that affects their balance, a fall prevention plan must be created uniquely for that resident. The plan should specify activities and movements that require assistance, such as getting out of bed, bathing or navigating hallways.
While a fall might sometimes be inevitable, many times they are preventable. Alarms can help notify nursing home staff that a resident is attempting to move and frequent staff checks can help ensure that a resident isn’t attempting to perform a task or activity that might cause them to fall. Just as important as a fall prevention plan is a fall care plan, or a list of essential checks that must be done to ensure that no cognitive or physical impairment or injury has been sustained. While Mr. McMaster’s fall might not have been able to be prevented, had the LPN performed the proper checks, staff would have been able to identify that he was suffering from a brain bleed that ultimately caused his death just 8 hours later.
If someone you love has fallen in a nursing home and has suffered neurological or physical impairment, injury, or even death, the nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys of Chicago’s Levin & Perconti want to help you. In 1992, we became one of the first firms in the country to dedicate ourselves to pursuing justice for elderly victims of nursing home abuse and neglect. Since then, we have successfully litigated and settled numerous cases against nursing homes throughout Illinois and in nearly every area of Chicago. Contact us now for a free consultation at 312-332-2872 or click here to complete our online case evaluation form.