Many Iowa residents were shocked when two caregivers were charged in connection with the death of a severely ill 51-year-old woman in 2013. The woman, who was immobile and unable to speak, died of pneumonia at a Tabor hospice. The charges were filed after authorities discovered that several bedsores on the woman’s body had not been properly treated at a Hamburg assisted living facility. The caregivers charged were a 73-year-old woman and a 55-year-old woman.
The felony charges of dependent adult abuse leveled against the two women could have led to harsh custodial sentences, but both of the women agreed to enter guilty pleas to lesser charges in return for more lenient treatment. The 73-year-old woman who had acted as the primary caregiver was given a deferred judgement of six months of probation and a $65 fine in May 2015. The 55-year-old nurse involved entered a guilty plea to the misdemeanor charge of accessory after the fact in August 2015. She will also serve probation, pay a small fine and serve 40 hours of community service.
Authorities originally believed that the caregivers’ negligence may have directly contributed to their patient’s death, but a medical examiner concluded after performing an autopsy that the woman’s death was not connected to the bedsores. However, evidence in the case clearly indicates that the two women charged were aware of the bedsores and had been given strict instructions regarding their treatment.
Prosecutors sometimes agree to reduce criminal charges because proving their case beyond a reasonable doubt can be challenging. However, the standard of evidence required in civil cases is not as onerous, and a personal injury attorney could pursue civil remedies on behalf of elder abuse victims and their families.
Source: Omaha.com, “Authorities: Negligence led to Iowa woman’s death”, Kirby Kaufman, July 1, 2014
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