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Texas Nursing Home Employee Arrested and Charged in Patient's Head Injury

Jun 11, 2013

James Seaton, an employee at the Kaufman (Texas) Healthcare Center, was recently arrested in connection with a head injury to 88-year-old patient Sammie Berry.

Kaufman police chief Chris Aulbaugh told Dallas-Fort Worth television station CBS-11 that Seaton was charged with aggravated assault for injuries Berry sustained while in his care. Aulbaugh said Seaton attempted to conceal what had happened and also tried to blame someone else for Berry’s injuries.

Sammie Berry was taken to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Kaufman for treatment. A picture on CBS-11’s website shows a large gash on Berry’s forehead and a deep-purple bruise covering the side of her face.

In a statement released last week, nursing home officials said they are helping police in their investigation. Richard Agnew, an attorney for the healthcare center, said, “Safety and the well-being of our residents are our paramount focus.”

CBS-11’s investigative team reports that the nursing home has previously been cited and fined by the Texas Department of Aging & Disability Services. In 2011 and 2012, the agency found that the healthcare center provided sub-standard care. The facility paid civil penalties of $2,405 and $6,500 in the two incidents, and for most of April 2012 the agency refused to pay for new admissions. In March 2012, the department substantiated a complaint of verbal and mental abuse of a patient. The nursing home itself was not cited, CBS-11 reports, because an employee was found to be at fault.

Abuse and neglect of nursing home and rehabilitation center patients are serious concerns nationwide, experts say. Patients with dementia, stroke and cardiac problems, people with mental illness or retardation, and patients with limited mobility or the inability to communicate are all at risk for abuse. And many of the most vulnerable are unable to accurately report abuse. But even those who are able to make a report may be reluctant to do so for fear of retaliation. Advocates for the elderly and the disabled say family and friends must be alert to the signs of abuse and neglect, and promptly report suspected mistreatment.

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