New York nursing home accused of neglect after patient dies

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP

A tip from a whistleblower has prompted the New York attorney general to lead an investigation into a Long Island nursing home. Nine employees were taken into custody, and seven were connected to the 2012 death of a 72-year-old woman who was temporarily staying at the facility. The nursing home is accused of ignoring alarms coming from the patient’s room after her ventilator malfunctioned. The attorney general’s office also alleged that the facility has repeatedly exhibited signs of abuse and neglect over the past six years.

The deceased patient had been admitted for a six-week rehabilitation following a case of pneumonia. Her alarm allegedly went off for two hours without response. Afterwards, the staff reportedly told the woman’s daughter the death was caused by a heart attack. Authorities suspect the facility’s administrator of concealing the truth, while one licensed employee received criminal charges for negligent homicide.

A representative for the nursing home claims the facility has consistently exceeded all safety protocols and earned no infractions in the most recent inspection. Yet the attorney general cited 5,000 incidents of suspected neglect since 2008 and hopes to prosecute a civil case against the nursing home. Authorities plan to investigate additional allegations that the medical center’s owners embezzled more than $60 million in Medicaid funds.

Prosecutors are confident that surveillance footage seized from the facility may help prove the accused employees behaved negligently. Nursing home professionals are responsible for fostering a safe environment and promptly handling the needs of patients who can’t care for themselves. When an elderly relative shows signs of abuse, families may be able to file a complaint to have authorities thoroughly check the facility’s standards of care. Investigators will likely look for employees willing to come forward and contact other families to uncover any patterns of neglect.

Source: CBS New York, “9 Arrested In L.I. Nursing Home Probe Following Patient’s Death”, February 11, 2014

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