Two workers at a Staten Island nursing home lost their licenses as a result of the beating of a developmentally disabled resident. They also pleaded guilty to violating state health laws, and neither will work in health care again. The home itself was reportedly not cited with any violations. The state attorney general’s office reports that an aide allegedly struck a patient on the head several times, and a supervisor then allegedly tried to cover it up. The incident underscores the importance of vigilance among loved ones of nursing home residents.
According to a report in the Staten Island Advance, an EMT reported to a nurse supervisor that he witnessed an nurse aide hitting a patient on the head several times, and saw the patient react defensively. The patient was a developmentally disabled 40 year-old suffering from depression and schizophrenia. The nurse supervisor told the EMT not to report what he saw because, according to authorities, she did not want the aide to get into trouble. The nurse supervisor also reportedly did not examine the patient or file an incident report, although the law requires her to do so.
The state attorney general’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit investigated the incident and charged the nurse aide with endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person and with willfully violating state health laws. The aide pleaded guilty to the charge of willful violation of health laws, receiving a sentence of a conditional discharge. She had to give up her nurse aide certificate and may not work in health care as a further condition.
The nurse supervisor was charged with falsification of business records and with willfully violating state health laws. She also pleaded guilty to the willful violation charge and got a conditional discharge. She lost her practical nurse license and must refrain from working in health care. News reports indicated she had received two suspensions previously, once in 2004 for failing to report a patient’s fall or treat the patient’s injury, and in 2006 for administering an incorrect dosage of painkiller and attempting to hide the mistake.
News coverage of this incident does not directly address the issue of the nursing home’s potential liability to the injured patient. Ordinarily, a nursing home is liable for the actions of its employees, if those actions are committed in the course of their professional duties. A nursing home could also be held liable for failing to protect a resident from a dangerous situation, if administrators had reason to know there may have been a risk. While it is difficult to anticipate that a worker might abuse a resident, state nursing boards keep records of prior disciplinary actions.
The Maryland Board of Nursing handles discipline and rehabilitation of nursing professionals in this state. It maintains records online of disciplinary actions and decisions. This can be a useful resource if you suspect a loved one who resides in a nursing home might be a victim of abuse, or for conducting due diligence on a nursing home you are considering for a loved one.
Discipline & Rehabilitation Division, Maryland Board of Nursing
More Blog Posts:
Indictments Issued in Two Separate Maryland Nursing Home Assault Cases, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, October 4, 2011
Former Schoolteacher Sues Nursing Home For Elder Abuse, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, August 30, 2011
Nursing Home Aides Found Guilty of Elder Abuse by Engaging in Prank with Dementia Residents, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, August 18, 2011