Prosecutor drops nursing home abuse charges to misdemeanors

Hearing the story of a Warren County nursing home nurse lying on documents to cover her failure to give five residents their medications probably put many New York families on edge. As many people in upstate New York have loved ones in nursing homes, nursing home abuse and neglect is a particularly sensitive topic. And, this most recent incident of nursing home neglect in Warren County likely have people angry.

It is bad enough that a nurse failed to give five of her patients their medicine, but worse still that she recognized that she was negligent and falsified their records to cover her tracks. Unfortunately, the state Attorney General's Office apparently doesn't believe the incident to be nearly as serious as it had previously: her 15 felony charges were recently lowered to only a few misdemeanors.

Although this likely saddens the family members of the residents who were denied their medicine, a criminal conviction is only one way to hold negligent staff members and nursing homes liable. The family members can file nursing home neglect lawsuits against the facility on behalf of their relatives, forcing it to cover the costs associated with the neglect.

It is true that New York nurses may be overworked and that nursing homes can assign a whole wing to a single nurse, but nursing home residents should not suffer because of it. Residents live in nursing homes because they are in need of help that they either cannot provide for themselves or that their family members cannot provide for them. They need the nurses that are there to care for them and, if the nurse cannot do that, he or she or the nursing home itself should be held responsible.

Source: Glens Falls Post-Star, "Watching out for nursing home abuse, neglect," Jon Alexander, May 18, 2013

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