Geriatric Unit Accused of Failing Patients

A former geriatric psychiatric nurse at Marietta Memorial Hospital alleges that he was wrongfully terminated for reporting quality and legal compliance issues in the unit, which was managed and operated by the UHS-owned Horizon Mental Health Management. He alleges that he was asked to meet with a Horizon Health representative twice to discuss a potential patient lawsuit and the care/ treatment rendered for this patient (Patient A). During these sessions, the Plaintiff nurse revealed that he thought that Patient A “received improper and inadequate care leading to a severely dehydrated state and neurological complications” and that “the care and treatment received by Patient A was consistent with the care and treatment rendered to other patients at the geriatric psychiatric unit…as it was operated by Horizons…” He further revealed during these sessions, among other things, that it was “common” for the unit to:
  • Not provide patients with adequate water and nutrition;
  • Not take patients to the toilet and then “documenting; patients soiling themselves as an adverse behavior permitting Horizons [sic] to extend the individual patient’s admission;
  • Over-medicate patients;
  • Force patients to attend group therapy sessions when patients were too ill to sit or stand;
  • Document group therapy sessions that did not occur;
  • Disclose personal patient information;
  • Not maintain proper infection control protocols;
  • Call the medical director to authorize an admission when the on-call doctor has refused to authorize the admission; and
  • Not provide new employees with safety training.
The Plaintiff alleges that he was retaliated against within 24 hours of this oral report of violations to the Horizons representative. He claims he was  terminated due to “baseless allegations” and that the unit’s director retaliated against him by “falsely accusing him of administering medication to a patient without authorization through creating of an “incident” by combining entries from one or more patient charts.” He alleges that his termination “was mere pretext for terminating Plaintiff for reporting significant health, safety, and confidentiality violations of law in the treatment of patients…reporting abuse of patients…and reporting falsification of patient medical records relating to group therapy sessions.” The case closed pursuant to a confidential settlement in January 2014.