State files criminal, civil charges for nursing home neglect

Patient care mistakes in Cook County long-term care facilities may go undetected. Nursing home residents are often elderly, very ill or incapacitated, which makes them targets for abuse. Many residents are silent victims of nursing home neglect.

Prosecutors in a state on the East Coast have brought criminal and civil charges against Medford Multicare Center for Living, Inc. The 320-bed nursing home has operated for more than a decade on Long Island. The state alleges, from the time the facility opened, patients were at risk.

Nine arrests were made, including an administrator, the head of the respiratory therapy department and seven staff members. A 61-year-old Medford employee, who allegedly contributed to a patient’s death in 2012 by ignoring a warning alarm, was charged with criminally negligent homicide. The state said the alarm beeped repeatedly for over two hours before anyone noticed the 72-year-old patient’s ventilator was disconnected.

This isn’t the first time criminal charges were filed against the facility. A half dozen Medford employees were tried for patient neglect in 2008. The home never improved, according to new complaint.

Documents in the civil filing accused Medford’s operators of greed. The state alleged the nursing home’s owners tolerated abuse by managers and staff within the facility. Officials said documents were falsified to hide the ventilator episode; the state said it uncovered the neglect with the help of a whistleblower.

The nursing home placed the accused workers on paid leave, after the charges came to light. Attorneys for two defendants vowed to challenge the state’s allegations. In the meantime, the family of the patient whose ventilator was disconnected is preparing to file a medical malpractice claim.

Families often don’t question what they hear from staff members about loved ones in nursing homes. The reality can be very different from staff verbal and written reports. A nursing home with safety violations may lose certification and all-important government funding.

Source: NBC New York, “9 Arrested in Long Island Nursing Home” Frank Eltman, Feb. 11, 2014

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State files criminal, civil charges for nursing home neglect