A 32-year-old licensed practical nurse in Ohio was found guilty at trial for her role in the death — and subsequent cover-up — of a 76-year-old nursing home resident. The elderly resident was found frozen to death outside of the nursing home after wandering off, her absence going undetected for hours despite protocols that were supposed to protect her.
The nurse was one of three Ottawa nursing home workers criminally charged for their roles in the woman’s death. The other two workers, both nursing aides, admitted to lying about events and altering records after the woman’s death to hide their involvement.
The nurse, however, denied that she was culpable. She blamed the patient’s death on problems with the alarm system used to alert staff members that a patient was wandering, problems with the nursing home’s administration and the acts of the other staff members.
However, evidence submitted in the case showed that the nurse herself was very much involved in what happened. The elderly resident, who had dementia and a history of wandering outside, was never checked on after she was placed in bed. Instead of tending to patients, the nurse was busy shopping for furniture online.
The nurse also entered false information in the patient’s chart. At 5:30 in the morning on Jan. 7, 2018, the nurse marked the patient as being in bed without actually looking. In reality, the patient was likely already dead.
The nurse excused her actions by saying she merely wrote down what the aides told her and that doing so was considered standard practice at the home. She’d also relied — incorrectly — on the alarm the patient was wearing to alert of her of trouble. She felt that she could hardly be blamed that it never sounded.
The jury disagreed. Her sentencing will commence after a pre-trial investigation.
Cases like this show the culture of neglect that can infect a nursing home and put patients at grave risk of harm. Some staff members are too disinterested in their jobs to bother with so much as a basic bed check on an at-risk patient.
If your loved one suffered because of a nursing home’s indifference or negligence, don’t stay silent. You have the right to hold them legally accountable for your loved one’s injuries — and an attorney can help you do so.