Earlier this month, the Supreme Court of Washington issued a groundbreaking opinion extending potential liability in a nursing home abuse lawsuit to nurses who were required to report discovered instances of nursing home abuse but failed to do so. In the case, Kim v. Lakeside Adult Family Home, the court determined that the Abuse of Vulnerable Adults Act (AVAA), a state-enacted law to protect the elderly, creates a separate cause of action against those who are required to report discovered instances of nursing home abuse but fail to do so.
The plaintiffs in this case are the surviving loved ones of an elderly woman who was given a lethal dose of the pain-killer drug morphine. The drug was not prescribed by a physician but was administered by a nurse who was not a party to this lawsuit.
The defendants were two nurses who were not employed by the facility charged with caring for the deceased, and they were in no way responsible for her care. Both defendants were caring for another individual at the facility when they witnessed what appeared to be lapses in care. On March 28 or 29, one of the defendants witnessed the deceased lying on the floor. The defendant confronted the other nurse, who told the defendant that the patient “falls a lot” and that it was nothing out of the ordinary.