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Nurse pleads guilty to felony elder abuse

A brief stint in a nursing home proved fatal for a California senior after only 13 days in the facility. The 77-year-old woman had been in a Placerville nursing home for less than two weeks before she passed away, showing signs of neglect and abuse when she arrived at the hospital hours before she died.

The woman passed away in 2008, but now the California attorney general is going after the nurses accused of nursing home abuse. One of the nurses recently plead no contest to the charge of felony elder abuse. In a teary statement she took responsibility, but noted that she and other nurses felt overwhelmed by the patient caseload at the nursing home.

In 2010 the family of the deceased woman filed suit against the health care management company that ran the facility. The suit ended in a three million dollar settlement against the company for failure to maintain adequate nursing home staff to keep up with the patient's needs.

Nursing homes owe their patients a reasonable standard of care, and when a health care provider fails to hire enough staff in an effort to cut costs and maximize profits, this standard of care is often neglected. In this case the nurses responsible will face sentencing, but the problem is more systemic than this. Far from an isolated incidence, nursing homes all over the country have faced similar allegations of failure to provide adequate staffing to care for their patients.

Our nation's elderly deserve better, and health care providers need to be held accountable when these tragedies occur. Families of loved ones in nursing homes should contact an experienced personal injury attorney at the first suspicion of nursing home abuse or neglect.

Source: Sacramento Bee "Nurse enters plea deal in elder abuse case, says 'my heart aches'," Marjie Lundstrom, Nov. 2, 2012

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