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When a loved one can’t care for him or herself, family members often feel the best choice is to put that person in a facility that can offer proper care. It takes an enormous amount of trust to leave someone dear to you in the care of a stranger. If a family is fortunate, after some time they get to know the staff, and it feels like close friends or relatives are caring for their loved one. Unfortunately, more families each year are finding that their loved one is a victim of abuse or neglect.

A nurse at West Neck Residence in Virginia Beach was fired because of accusations of neglecting a developmentally disabled resident, according to the Virginian-Pilot . In February, staff at the city-run facility noticed the resident’s stomach was distended. The nurse authorized a catheter without obtaining a doctor’s approval first. This violates state law and cost her her job.

The resident had to go to the emergency room two times that night. She was admitted the second time and diagnosed with an infection. She is now in a nursing home because she needs advanced care.

Adult Protective Services (APS) investigated the facility and the incident. It reported medication errors and medical record inaccuracies. APS investigators also found medical supplies and medications in the nurse’s office. She said they were for educational use. Regarding the resident, investigators determined that her care was inadequate but that the nurse’s decision to give her a catheter without doctor approval was not neglectful. The facility, which houses 24 developmentally disabled adults, was cited for neglect.

Despite the controversy surrounding the nurse, the injured resident’s father supports her. He feels the nurse may have saved her life, citing past problems getting the resident to drink. The nurse says the problem is a bureaucratic system that values regulations over patient health.The Virginia Department of Behavioral Heath and Developmental Services investigated and reported the nurse to the Board of Nursing.

Although APS determined the nurse’s actions didn’t constitute neglect, it stated in its report that the resident’s care was inadequate. Inadequate care is the hallmark of neglect, so based on the APS’s report the facility neglected the resident. While the father of this resident supports the nurse, other families of residents may not feel so supportive now that the facility’s conditions have undergone state investigation and failed to meet basic standards. If other family members suspect their loved one is being neglected, they should start looking for a different facility and talk to a nursing home neglect attorney as soon as possible. A successful claim may result in damages to compensate for the resident’s improper care and help prevent the facility from neglecting residents in the future.


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