Dennis B. Roddy reported in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette a case where the PA Appeals Court declared that a local nursing home and its owner may be held liable in a patient neglect death. The court’s ruling means that nursing home owners can be sued for neglect in any of their homes. Corporate negligence liability includes not only hospitals and health maintenance organizations but also nursing homes. The judges concluded that Grane, the parent firm, played a substantial role in managing the Highland facility, including establishing quality assurance.
"We conclude that plaintiff’s evidence established that both Highland and Grane acted with reckless disregard to the rights of others and created an unreasonable risk of physical harm to the residents of the nursing home," the court declared in its ruling. "The record was replete with evidence that the facility was chronically understaffed and complaints from staff continually went unheeded."
Peter Giglione represented Richard Scampone in his suit on behalf of the estate of his mother, Madeline Scampone. She died from neglect Feb. 9, 2004, at Highland Park Care Center. Mrs. Scampone died of dehydration caused by understaffing. Medical records were falsified and water was not provided to residents because the employees were overworked.
The Scampone estate won a judgment of $193,000 but sought and won a new trial after arguing that Judge Robert J. Colville erred in allowing the home’s owner, Grane Healthcare, to be excluded from the suit.
The court also declared that employees of the company "not only were aware of the understaffing that was leading to improper patient care, they deliberately altered records to hide that substandard care by altering [Activities of Daily Living records] that actually established certain care was not rendered."