Portland Nursing Home Workers Found Guilty of Felony Criminal Mistreatment in Death of Patient Who Was Dropped

In Oregon, two former Gateway Care and Retirement Center workers were found guilty of felony criminal mistreatment related to the death of a 60-year-old nursing home patient who was dropped while being transferred from a wheelchair to her bed. Linda Ober broke her legs in the fall, which took place at the nursing home on October 29, 2006. She died five days later after she was finally taken to a local hospital. Ober’s daughter, Sarah Cunningham, has already filed a $3.5 million wrongful death lawsuit against the nursing home.

The two former Gateway Care employees are Suzanne Ruddell and Cammy Elaine Nye. Ruddell, a former supervisor, reportedly failed to get Ober medical help even though she kept crying out and staff members kept saying that something was wrong with her. Ruddell also told a nurse not to complete the incident report about the fall and waited to order an X-ray for Ober until after she was told that the patient had a bone sticking out at a weird angle. Ruddell then went to the beach.

Nye, a certified nursing assistant, was found guilty of misdemeanor reckless endangerment for carelessly placing Ober in a sling right before she fell. Another nurse, Verna Colleen Heide, has already pleaded guilty to one count of criminal mistreatment. It was Heide who determined that Ober’s condition was fine after the fall.

Wrongful Death
Nursing homes and their workers are required to provided residents with proper care and supervision. When nursing home neglect, abuse, or failure to provide that care results in the death of a patient, the family of the deceased may be able to file an Oregon wrongful death claim against the home and its workers.

Cunningham’s Oregon wrongful lawsuit, filed in December 2007, alleges negligence and wrongful death. Cunningham says staff members told her mother that the pain was in her mind and the accident never occurred. Cunningham did not know her mother had been hurt until after she was notified of her death.

Gateway nursing home workers found guilty of criminal charges in death of 60-year-old patient who was dropped, The Oregonian, October 6, 2008
Closing arguments in Oregon nursing home death, KGW.com, October 6, 2008
Family Claims Wrongful Death In Nursing Home Lawsuit, KPTV.com, December 14, 2007
Related Web Resources:

Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Resource Center

Gateway Care and Retirement Center