Articles Posted in Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Three years after Ruby Larson wandered away from the assisted care home in which she was living, a Multnomah County jury this week awarded her family $875,000 in damages, finding Oregon negligence in the way the facility cared for her.

According to a report in The Oregonian, Larson’s family contended that the retirement community and its parent corporation were guilty of Oregon nursing home abuse and neglect, contending that the facility “failed to provide adequate care for Larson and prevent her from repeatedly wandering off.” The defendants replied that Larson was “a fiery, spirited and sometimes stubborn woman” who, in the words of the company’s attorney, “lived the life she wanted to live.” Apparently, that included regularly wandering away from the facility – including three times in the month before her final disappearance.

Though she disappeared in 2007, Larson’s body was not found until May of this year. According to the newspaper, a 4 year old searching for a lost cat discovered her skeleton, still clothed except for her shoes, in some bushes only a quarter-mile from the retirement facility.

The death last year of a patient at the Oregon State Hospital has led to reprimands for five hospital employees. According to the Salem Statesman-Journal a state official and “hospital leaders” decided that reprimands were a sufficient punishment for the five employees. The legal system, however, has yet to have its final say on this serious situation. Oregon wrongful death and Oregon medical neglect lawsuits remain a possibility.

The reprimands were occasioned by the death last fall of 42 year old Moises Perez. Perez died of coronary artery disease, according to The Oregonian, but “lay in his room across from the nurses station for several hours before his body was discovered.”

The paper reports that three nurses and two aides have now had letters of reprimand placed in their personnel files following an investigation by the OSH’s human resources department. The reprimands are not accompanied by any loss of pay or suspension from work. The Oregonian reports that one of the nurses failed to make monthly nursing summaries on Perez’s chart from June until the patient’s death in October. One of the aides was disciplined for failing to alert nurses when Perez did not “show up to take his 3:30pm medications” on the day of his death. A separate investigation of a doctor, being carried out by a medical board, is still under way.

A fascinating column in the November issue of Consumer Reports magazine offered a frank call for more openness in medicine. Dr. John Santa, an internist who also directs the magazine’s Health Ratings Center, wrote: “Until our health care system gets its act together, patients and their families will have to be constructively assertive to get to the bottom of any mishaps.”

The reason for this, Dr. Santa writes, is that American medicine has developed a professional culture that is very reluctant to acknowledge error. Doctors and nurses fear professional consequences. Administrators, in turn, fear that publicizing mistakes will make medical professionals even more reluctant to report them. Ultimately, the real losers, he writes, are patients, who “deserve to know what happened and that the doctor or hospital is trying to rectify the situation.”

Dr. Santa also offers a series of helpful, common sense suggestions for patients, among them: “Enlist family members to keep track of your care” and “Know what medicine you’re taking and tell your doctor or nurse if you don’t recognize what you’re given.”

The family of a 75-year-old nursing home resident is suing Pheasant Pointe Retirement and Assisted Living Residence and Spectrum Retirement Communities of Oregon for her wrongful death. Ruby Larson wandered away from the Molalla nursing home on July 23, 2007. She was never to be seen again. Last year, a judge declared the Alzheimer’s patient legally dead.

The Oregon wrongful death lawsuit, filed on behalf of one of the elderly woman’s sons, contends that Larson had wandered off on more than one occasion yet staff members failed to prevent the final incident from happening. The plaintiff is seeking $2 million.

Oregon Nursing Home Negligence
Elderly and sick persons stay at Oregon nursing homes because they need help taking care of themselves. Some residents, because they suffer from dementia, Alzheimer’s, or another kind of ailment that impairs their memory, have a tendency to wander off and then forget where they are.

It is important that an Oregon assisted facility properly supervises all residents, while paying special attention to patients who are an elopement risk. A nursing home should also make sure that the facility and premises are properly secured so that residents aren’t able to just leave without anyone’s knowledge by walking out front or side doors or jumping out of windows (this can cause injury, especially if the window is located above the ground floor).

Nursing home residents that wander off a premise could end up getting hit by a car, freezing to death, getting hurt in a slip and fall accident, or becoming the victim of a violent crime. Injuries sustained from wandering off may even result in Oregon wrongful death.

Reports of nursing home patients attempting to wander off is not uncommon and Portland, Oregon nursing homes and other assisted living facilities must make sure that this doesn’t keep happening.

Family of missing Ore. patient files suit,, August 4, 2009
Alzheimer’s: Understand and control wandering,
Related Web Resources:
Preventing Elopement,
Nursing Homes in Oregon

Continue reading

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.

50 SW Pine St 3rd Floor Portland, OR 97204 Telephone: (503) 226-3844 Fax: (503) 943-6670 Email:
map image