If discovered, most cases of nursing home neglect or abuse in West Virginia will lead to the filing of a civil lawsuit. Criminal charges, by contrast, are generally reserved for only the most extreme cases of misconduct. Before we talk about a recent case where that happened, it's worth mentioning that the words "abuse" and "neglect" have significantly different legal meanings in the context of nursing home litigation.
Nursing home abuse generally refers to knowing and intentional acts, such as a physical or sexual assault. Nursing home neglect, on the other hand, can apply to any instance where a facility or its staff failed to provide residents with an acceptable level of care.
Last week, the owner of a now-condemned assisted living facility in the Charleston area of South Carolina was arrested on neglect charges and released from jail after posting bond. According to court documents filed by local authorities, the facility was infested with cockroaches, served moldy food and was failing to provide residents with acceptable care in several other ways. One resident, in fact, had to be transported to the hospital due to malnutrition and dehydration
Shockingly, this is not the first time criminal charges related to her treatment of patients have been filed against the woman. In 2004, she was charged with stealing from and assaulting one of her residents. As part of a deal reached with local prosecutors, however, she paid a $4,000 fine that allowed her to avoid going to court on those charges and reopen her facility.
Source: WCBD News 2, "Court papers: nursing home was infested with roaches, moldy food was served," April 12, 2012