A Suffolk County grand jury handed down a 46 count indictment against six employees of the Medford Multicare Center for Living, a 320-bed nursing facility in Medford, New York. The indictment alleges that the employees neglected a patient who died under their care. It also charges at least six employees with abuse, falsifying business records, obstructing government administration, tampering with physical evidence, and endangering an incompetent person. The charges were originally brought about by the Attorney General’s office, which is handling the criminal case.
In October 2012, Aurelia Rios, a 72-year-old woman, was admitted into the facility for respiratory problems. A doctor ordered that Rios be hooked up to a ventilator at night. Staff members ignored these orders, according to officials. Because Rios’ breathing was still monitored electronically, an alarm sounded to alert staff members that the patient was breathing; the alarm sounded every 15 seconds over a period over several hours, but staff members, including a nurse who sat several feet away from a computer showing the alarms, ignored the patient who eventually died. An administrator then deleted computer records of the alarms in an apparent attempt to conceal how the patient had died. All six employees have been placed on paid leave pending the outcome of the case.
Andrew Moesel, a spokesperson for the facility, stated, “This is just the next step in the legal process that began in February. Medford remains confident that these allegations will be proven false, and it will show that the facility in fact provides excellent quality of care.”
The nursing home has been cited by the Department of Health (DOH) for numerous deficiencies in the past. During an August 2012 inspection, officials discovered that the facility failed to provide timely treatment to a resident who had a bedsore. The dementia patient was transferred to the Medford home after being in the hospital. The hospital’s medical records, which should be reviewed by nursing home staff members in charge of admitting residents, indicated that the patient had a stage III pressure ulcer which wasn’t detected by nursing home employees until several days later. As a result, the bedsore grew in size and worsened. Because pressure sores progress quickly, they can cause serious medical complications, such as sepsis, if left untreated.
In addition, DOH investigators determined that the nursing facility failed to respond to the immediate needs of a dementia patient with a history of behavioral issues. According to the patient’s care plan, staff members were instructed to intervene with therapeutic remedies if the patient became upset or agitated. However, a DOH inspector observed the man screaming for help while he was left unattended in the dining room. A social worker sitting at the nurse’s station repeatedly ignored the man’s pleas for help. She later admitted that she should have intervened.
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