NBC 4 News reported last week on the end of criminal trial stemming for alleged nursing home neglect. A former nursing home supervisor was charged with “attempted patient neglect.” The supervisor pled “no contest” at which point the judge sentenced her to a suspended 10-day jail sentence. She will be on probation for one year and was also required to pay a fine and court costs.
According to reports the state’s attorney general’s office first began investigating the woman in August of last year. The health care fraud section began looking into the conduct of the employee after reports about a troubling incident. Investigators eventually discovered that an 81-year old nursing home resident was thrown from her wheelchair while under the care of the supervisor while in a van. The resident suffered several fractures as a result of the fall. The driver of the van swerved at avoid hitting a deer, which caused the van to shift and sent the woman plummeting.
However, when the nursing home resident returned to the facility, she did not receive the quick care she needed to address her injuries. That is because the nursing home supervisor (and criminal defendant) did not perform a physical assessment of the senior following the accident. Our Chicago nursing home lawyers understand that basic care at these facilities requires seniors to be assessed following falls to determine the extent of the injuries. This is prudent for everyone, but it is particularly important for seniors because they may be able to explain their injuries or understand the extent of the harm.
Not only did the woman not receive proper medical care, but analysis of the situation revealed that nursing home neglect might have caused the injury itself. In particular, the senior was not properly secured into the seat of her wheelchair while in the van. Considering swerving, sudden stops, and accidents can occur when in vehicles, it is essentially for nursing home residents to be properly secured by caregivers. Failure, as this case shows, often leads to injury. Not buckling in a resident is a sign of nursing home neglect. Perhaps even worse, in this case the nursing home employees used a “bungee cord” to retrain the woman in the wheelchair’s arm rests. Obviously this haphazard attempt at safety did not work.
Each Illinois nursing home neglect attorney at our firm appreciates the importance of holding accountable those who engage in this sort of misconduct. There is never an excuse for failing to meet these basic caregiving standards, like physical exams following a fall and proper restraints while in a motor vehicle. That accountability often takes the form of civil lawsuits and sometimes (though far less frequently) via criminal charges. It is unclear exactly what “attempted” neglect refers to in this case, because the supervisor’s conduct (or lack of conduct) appears not ‘attempted’ but actual neglect. In all likelihood the charges represent some less culpable conduct that was included as part of a plea bargain or other arrangement with local prosecutors. In any event, it is important that there was some accountability to warn others that this sort of conduct will not be tolerated.
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