A South Carolina nursing home recently agreed to settle nursing home abuse claims that a medical technician who was an employee of the nursing home allegedly stole powerful opioid pain medication (Percocet) prescribed for a 75-year-old resident who was dying a painful death from pancreatic cancer, and substituted over-the-counter Tylenol in the Percocet’s bubble wrapping.
A nursing supervisor who was allegedly made aware that the medical technician was stealing narcotic medications and that residents were not receiving their prescribed medications pleaded guilty in March 2017 to failing to report abuse of a vulnerable adult and was sentenced to three years in prison with all but 90 days of the sentence suspended. The 65-year-old nursing supervisor was also sentenced to six months of house arrest along with 320 hours of community service. The judge further prohibited her from caring for vulnerable adults.
The medical technician’s criminal trial for the alleged thefts of narcotic medications is scheduled for December 2017.
The theft of narcotic medications intended for nursing home residents was reported to the nursing supervisor on December 17, 2015 by another medical technician. The nursing supervisor, who was a prayer partner and long-time friend of the medical technician who was allegedly stealing the medications, failed to report the thefts and allegedly told the medical technician “Promise not to tell a soul. I mean it” and allegedly texted the medical technician “Take that to your grave.”
Then, on February 7, 2016, the medical technician who reported the original medication thefts told the nursing supervisor that the dying resident’s medications were again missing. Another medical technician reportedly told the nursing supervisor that another resident’s pain medications were also missing and that Tylenol had been substituted instead. Nonetheless, the nursing supervisor did nothing, according to reports.
Meanwhile, the resident was agonizing in unrelenting pain from his terminal pancreatic cancer. An aide at the nursing home went to the local police to report the medication thefts and reportedly told the police that the resident was in such pain that he was threatening to kill himself. The resident died in June 2016.
The resident’s sister brought the nursing home abuse claim against the nursing home. The plaintiff’s attorney wrote in the documents submitted to obtain court approval of the $1 million settlement, “Mr. Sloan was deprived of the thing he most wanted, which was to live out his final days in as little pain as possible so he could enjoy his family during the last few months of his life.” While the resident’s death was not due to the failure to provide him with his prescribed pain pills, the nursing home agreed to settle the claims of nursing home abuse of a vulnerable adult, although the nursing home did not admit fault and it denied that the resident did not get his pain medication.
South Carolina law defines a “vulnerable adult” as “a person eighteen years of age or older who has a physical or mental condition which substantially impairs the person from adequately providing for his or her own care or protection. This includes a person who is impaired in the ability to adequately provide for the person’s own care or protection because of the infirmities of aging including, but not limited to, organic brain damage, advanced age, and physical, mental, or emotional dysfunction. A resident of a facility is a vulnerable adult.”
If you or a loved one suffered injuries (or worse) while a resident of a nursing home in South Carolina or in another U.S. state due to nursing home neglect, nursing home negligence, nursing home abuse, nursing home understaffing, or resident on resident abuse, you should promptly contact a local nursing home claim attorney in your U.S. state who may investigate your nursing home claim for you and file a nursing home claim on your behalf, if appropriate.
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