N.Y. Nursing Aide Pleads Guilty after Breaking 92-Year-Old Patient’s Leg

Rashawn Owens, a former certified nursing assistant (CNA) at the Daughter of Sarah Nursing Home, a 210-bed facility located in Albany, New York, pleaded guilty in November 2012 to breaking a 92-year-old patient’s leg in September 2010. The patient died as a result of his injury. Owens pleaded guilty to Endangering the Welfare of a vulnerable Elderly Person or an Incompetent or Disabled Person in the First Degree and was sentenced to five years’ probation. He was fined $2,000, and will no longer be allowed to work in a nursing home, which state law prohibits from hiring anyone convicted of abuse.

broken leg.jpgOn September 29, 2010, Owens was bathing a resident who was sitting in a shower chair. The patient’s care plan required that he be transferred with the use of a mechanical lift, which requires two people to safely operate. In contravention of the care plan, Owens attempted to transfer the patient on his own. He pried the patient’s legs apart and forced an incontinence brief between the man’s thighs. In doing so, Owens broke the elderly man’s leg. When the patient’s thigh became severely swollen, Owens lied to other staff members, stating that he had used the mechanical lift with the help of another CNA. Statements from the other CNA and hallway surveillance video proved Owen’s statement untrue. The resident’s broken femur required surgical repair. The patient died in the hospital while recovering from surgery.

New York State Department of Health inspectors have cited Daughters of Sarah Nursing Center in the past for numerous deficiencies. In January 2012, the facility was cited for failing to thoroughly investigate and report allegations of sexual abuse. According to the DOH report, a 100-year-old resident, whose mental state was moderately impaired, told staff members that she had been raped in the middle of the night on numerous occasions. The resident told a social worker, “They force me to have sex with them. I hate them. They are filthy, and I don’t think that I should have to live like this.” When the resident appeared suicidal, she was taken to the emergency room, where hospital employees contacted the local police to perform a rape kit. The DOH concluded that the nursing home should have contacted law enforcement immediately after the patient made the allegations. In response, he director of nursing stated, “[W]e didn’t believe it had happened…I followed our internal policy, and the allegations were not credible.” Nursing home employees are required by law to call the police to investigate allegations of abuse.

The nursing home was also cited in January 2012 for failing to follow a doctor’s medication orders. A patient suffering from diabetes required insulin on a daily basis. The doctor indicated in the patient’s chart that staff members notify him if the patient’s blood sugar reached a level of 401 or more. However, when the resident’s blood sugar level reached 407, a licensed practical nurse failed to inform the physician in order to assess the patient’s condition.

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