Falsified records mean legal woes for administrator, aide
Susan Kayser, partner at Duane Morris
Lying about a wandering resident and foregoing help when lifting a resident were all it took to land a nursing home administrator and a nurse aide in legal trouble.
Nancy Szydlowski, who was the administrator at The Hamptons Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing, was arrested by Southampton Village police and charged with falsifying business records, tampering with physical evidence and offering a false instrument for filing, according to court records. In an unrelated case, a former nurse aide, Ray Okaham, also was arrested and charged with falsifying business records and a public health violation. Both defendants are due in court on Feb. 11.
In Szydlowski's case, a dementia patient disappeared for five hours in 2009 and was later found, Newsday reported. When state officials investigated, she told a nurse supervisor to write a note in the records that the resident was seen trying to leave and caught by Szydlowski.
The resident had been wearing a wandering device that didn't set off an alarm and her location was supposed to be documented every 15 minutes per her care plan, according to court records.
In Okaham's case, police allege he lied about having help when moving a 97-year-old resident. The resident's care plan required two aides and a mechanical lift when she had to be moved, Newsday reported.
The alteration of records in a long-term care setting can increase the risk of prosecution, notes Duane Morris partner Susan V. Kayser, who is not involved in the case.
“It can turn it into a much, much more significant case,” and provide a clearer path toward prosecution, she said.
Administrators also should make sure a care plan is feasible. Kayser notes record revising can occur when an employee panics following a minor mistake.