Nurse charged in nursing home incident

A 38-year-old licensed practical nurse was arrested on felony neglect charges following an incident in which she allegedly failed to give five nursing home residents their prescribed drugs. Her arrest came approximately one year after the facility had previously been under investigation for a separate incident in the prior year. The woman's lawyer cites understaffing in the nursing home as a cause of patient neglect.

In 2010, federal officials testified before Congress and stated that seven percent of nursing home complaints concerned actual cases of nursing home neglect and abuse. Staffing shortages and low pay for strenuous job duties are cited as reasons for the high volume of nursing home complaints. The State of New York does not regulate the maximum number of patients that can be assigned to a single nursing staff member. In most homes, the number of patients assigned to a nurse or aid is based on the facility's population. This can be problematic because residents with more acute conditions require closer supervision and more attentive care.

Though short staffing accounts for some instances of errors that occur in nursing home, the issue cannot be blamed for all cases of abuse. The number of observed deficiencies tend to be lower in not-for-profit nursing homes, which tend to allocate more resources to staffing and training. However, even not-for-profit facilities have reported cases in which residents do not receive their prescribed medicine. There is also criticism from nursing home administrators regarding the way in which the state reviews nursing home care quality. Some argue the method of recognizing deficiencies does not account for the severity of the infraction that is involved in each case.

Nursing home abuse can be difficult to discover. However, once an abusive or negligent situation has been detected, victims and their families may find it helpful to seek the advice of a lawyer. A lawyer who specializes in nursing home abuse cases can possibly advise the family as they consider pursuing criminal charges and a civil court action.

Source: Poststar.com, "Watching out for nursing home abuse, neglect", Jon Alexander, May 18, 2013

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