Legal Eagle Eye Newsletter for the Nursing Profession (7)1 Jan 99


Quick Summary: Neglect can mean failure of a caretaker to supply a vulnerable adult with the food, clothing, shelter, health care, supervision or other services necessary to maintain physical and mental health.

   The court emphasized the word "supervision."

   An act of neglect does not have to be intentional. It can occur unintentionally from inattentiveness if the inattentiveness is due to factors within the actor’s control.  SUPREME COURT OF MISSISSIPPI, 1998.


   The Supreme Court of Mississippi made careful note of the nurse-investigator’s report. The nursing home resident was very fragile and was prone to fall. She was to be restrained at all times when she was not in bed, and she required two persons to move her from her bed to a chair.

   According to the court, this meant that she had to be closely attended at all times while seated on the portable toilet.

   The nurse’s aide was accused of leaving the room while the resident was alone seated on the commode.

   The aide insisted she did not leave the room, but admitted she did turn her back on the resident and moved a few feet away to get a towel, and was not right with her at the moment she fell off the commode.

   Either way, the court ruled this resident was a vulnerable adult and the aide’s inattentiveness denied her the close supervision to which she was entitled. The charge of neglect was upheld. Ricks v. Mississippi State Department of Health, 719 So. 2d 173 (Miss., 1998).