A former nursing home employee — whom McHenry County prosecutors claim was involved with the deaths of six patients — pled guilty last week to felony criminal neglect. In exchange for the guilty plea, five felony counts were dismissed regarding the suspicious deaths. The 60-year-old woman could be sentenced to serve up to three years in prison for nursing home abuse and neglect.
The woman worked at Woodstock care center when authorities began to investigate her in 2006. While she was an employee at the facility, six patients had died under suspicious circumstances. Three bodies of the deceased patients were exhumed to see if the patients had died from morphine overdoses. A pathologist confirmed that at least one of the patients had been overmedicated and died from an overdose.
Investigators became suspicious of the woman when they discovered that she had allegedly given an anti-anxiety drug to a patient whom the drug had not been prescribed to. After taking the drug, the patient fell and suffered a head injury. The nurse claimed that she did not intend to harm the patient and she thought that the drug would help him.
Prosecutors originally charged both the woman and her supervisor in 2008 with felony crimes, claiming that the woman’s supervisor was aware of the patients being overmedicated. However, her supervisor was acquitted of all charges earlier this year.
Illinois regulators suspended the nurse’s license in 2009 after the investigation of the six suspicious deaths was completed.
Choosing the right nursing home in Illinois for a loved one can be difficult. A variety of issues must be addressed, but safety is often on the top of the list for many Chicago families. Families expect that their loved ones will be properly cared for by employees who are well-trained and closely monitored. Unfortunately, this does not always happen.
Nursing home abuse may be difficult to prove, but families who suspect that a loved one has been harmed or not properly cared for deserve to make sure that the party responsible for the abuse is held liable. For this reason, many families often choose to work with an attorney who will ensure that their nursing home abuse case is aggressively pursued.
Source: Chicago Sun-Times, “Nursing home ‘Angel of Death’ pleads guilty,” Dan Rozek, Oct. 13, 2011