A total of three different staff members, two nurses and a healthcare aide, have been charged with crimes related to an elderly veteran’s death. Their actions, or more accurately lack of action, is also the focus of a wrongful death suit against the care center for which they worked.
The elderly veteran entered nursing care in 2014 in Georgia. He had a liver condition and needed dialysis. He also had a history of heart issues that required monitoring.
His medical chart instructed nurses and aides to send him to the hospital if he experienced chest pains. Those instructions went unheeded when the time came, and the victim died.
Prior to his death, however, he’d already complained to relatives that the care he was receiving was substandard. Concerned for his safety, they placed a hidden video camera in range of his bed. What it recorded was absolutely horrifying.
When reviewing the video after his death, relatives were shocked to see the elderly victim laying in his bed, pleading for help that never came and gasping for breath. The three employees essentially ignored him until he was no longer responsive.
Then, apparently in an effort to cover their negligence, they started resuscitation measures that they had to know were useless. In a deposition taken after the veteran’s death, the nurses insisted they’d started their resuscitation efforts right away, not an hour later when it was far too late.
While the wrongful death claim against the care center is still ongoing, prosecutors have determined that there is enough evidence to charge the workersnwith a variety of crimes, including neglect of a senior, unlawfully concealing someone’s death and felony murder.
Charges like these are unusual in many cases where neglect leads to death. Prosecutors don’t usually have graphic video evidence of the crimes, however, to back up their case.
Most of the time, the families of victims can only hold the guilty accountable for nursing home injuries through financial penalties assessed in wrongful death claims.
The standard of proof in a civil case is only a preponderance of the evidence, meaning that the death was more likely than not the result of negligence. In criminal trials, prosecutors have to meet the “reasonable doubt” standard, which is much higher. The evidence in this case could very well meet that standard.
Source: ABC News, “3 nursing-home staffers charged in death of WWII veteran,” Enjoli Francis, Jenn Metz and Alexandra Faul, Feb. 22, 2018