Nurse's aide charged with assault and battery on elderly patient

Elder abuse in nursing homes is a well-known national problem. In Massachusetts and elsewhere, that fact may make it easier in some instances to accuse an aide in a nursing home of assault and battery on a patient. On Sept. 5 a veteran nurse's aide was accused and arrested on assault and attempted murder charges at a Plymouth nursing home.

The 52-year-old certified nursing assistant has 22 years of experience. She was working at the Life Care Center in Plymouth where she and a co-worker were contending with a difficult female patient. The co-worker left the room to get linens, and returned to see the accused purportedly putting a pillow over the patient's head. However, she was only trying to shield herself from a spitting patient, according to her defense counsel.

Authorities were called and charged her with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (pillow) and assault with intent to murder. She pleaded innocent in District Court later that day. A prosecutor told the judge that the accused and a fellow nurse's aide were contending with a disruptive patient who suffered from dementia. The prosecutor said that the accused was seen by the aide who left and returned with linen, trying to cover the woman's head with a pillow. If the prosecutor had used some logic, he may have questioned why the accused would be trying to kill a patient knowing that the co-worker would be shortly returning to witness it.

The accused may have a viable defense under the criminal law of Massachusetts. What appears to be assault and battery from the perspective of someone just entering a room and seeing an event from behind, could easily also be the innocent act of using a pillow to shield spit while bending over to assist a cantankerous patient with dementia. The prosecution may also have difficulty proving motive or intent by a veteran worker who knows that a co-worker will return shortly with linen. Unless there is a history of prior events, or the accused has been seen committing other acts of elder abuse, there may just not be enough connecting logic in the prosecution's case.

Source: GateHouse Media, Inc., Randolph nurse's aide denies assaulting elderly patient, Rich Harbert Wicked, Sept.9, 2013

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