Earlier this month, State Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, indicted nine employees – including an administrator and a director – of the New York nursing home, Medford Multicare Center for Living, on charges in connection with the death in of 72 year-old Aurelia Rios in 2012. The 46 charges range from Criminally Negligent Homicide to Wilful Violation of Health Laws.
Licensed respiratory therapist, Kethlie Joseph, failed to read the doctor’s orders which stated that Aurelia Rios should be connected to a ventilator while she slept. Additionally, Joseph allegedly ignored alarms when Ms Rios stopped breathing, which sounded every 15 seconds for over two hours, plus messages to her pager. CCTV footage shows Joseph passing Ms Rios’ room, while her respiratory alarm was sounding. Joseph only responded to the situation when an aide checked on Ms Rios, and discovered that she had been dead for some time.
Other members of staff are also accused of failing to respond: one employee falsified written records by claiming that Ms Rios had not only been checked on but was in a stable condition, while another claimed that Ms Rios responded to her, despite having been dead for some time. Another staff member claimed that not only did the alarm not sound but that Ms Rios was breathing normally. Yet another employee, who was supposed to be by Ms Rios’ side, failed to respond to the bedside respiratory alarms. The licensed administrator and the director of respiratory therapy have been charged with covering up evidence of computer records which recorded the alarms’ activity.
This is not the first time that there have been nursing home abuse charges aimed at the Long Island facility; earlier this year two employees were charged with providing false statements and falsifying records in an attempt to conceal the neglect of other residents, which included a head trauma and a broken arm sustained when one member of staff, instead of monitoring the resident, left the building.
In addition, also earlier this year, the Attorney General filed a civil lawsuit against the owners for corporate looting and fraud, and 130 violations of state regulations pertaining to the care of their residents. The lawsuit describes a lengthy history of neglect and theft, notably of around a quarter of the Medicaid funding the home received (approx. $60m). Seventeen professional employees of the nursing home have been convicted of neglect and falsification in the past six years. Investigations discovered that out of the 5,000 incidents and accidents logged during this period, only 60 were reported, as required by law, to the NY State Department of Health.
General nursing home abuse and neglect
Tragically, nursing home abuse is not a rare occurrence; some sources estimate that as many as 30% of nursing homes are guilty of neglect in some form or another. Falls, bedsores & accidents, inadequate supervision, malnutrition and dehydration, and medication errors account for much of the neglect. In addition, there are many cases of nursing home sexual, physical, and emotional abuse.
The number of elderly people in the United States is increasing; the 2010 Census recorded that a record 40.3 million, or 13% of the total population is now over the age of 65. If you are concerned about the level of care your parent or elderly relative is receiving while in a care home, please don’t hesitate to call Antin, Ehrlich & Epstein LLP on 212-221-5999 to arrange a free consultation to discuss what action you may be able to take.