A jury handed a $43 million wrongful death award to the daughter of a man who died after numerous falls and long-term malnourishment and dehydration at the Moran Lake Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center in Rome, Georgia (GA). According to an article in the September 3, 2010, Atlanta Journal Constitution, evidence presented at a three-day civil trial proved that the owners and operators of Moran Lake failed to maintain adequate staffing levels, did not provide for proper supervision and feeding of patients, and used money paid for treating patients to buy a home and other things for themselves.

The track record of medical malpractice and neglect was found to have led directly to the April 2007 death of 80-year-old Morris Ellison.

Shortly after Ellison’s death, the Georgia state agency responsible for overseeing hospitals and other care facilities ordered Moran Lake to transfer all its patients and cease operations. The AJC reported that Georgia Department of Human Resources’ Office of Regulatory Services noted at the time that “Moran Lake’s deficiencies constituted violations of state and federal regulations, nursing home regulations, Georgia state health regulations, and National Fire Protection Association Life Safety Code Standards.”

This verdict comes in the same month that the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services stripped a Williamsburg, Virginia (VA), psychiatric nursing home of certification because of years of documented and alleged patient neglect and abuse. At least one patient’s suicide at the Hancock Geriatric Center at the Eastern State Hospital has been blamed on poor patient care and protection. Also close to home, a nurse in the in-patient mental health ward of Cherry Hospital in Goldsboro, North Carolina (NC), recently pled guilty to beating a patient.

Seniors and disabled patients in nursing homes require the best care doctors and nurses can offer. The patients also deserve protection from neglect and abuse. I’m pleased that the jury in the Moran Lake recognized this.