Court upholds Revocation of CNA Certification for tying nursing home resident’s wheelchair to handrail

A Certified Nurses’ Aide who worked in a New Jersey nursing home has lost her Certification for tying a resident’s wheelchair to the hallway handrail, causing agitation, distress and confinement of the resident. The act was found to constitute abuse & neglect, and this finding has been placed next to her name on the New Jersey Nurse Aide Registry.

An administrative hearing was conducted on her initial appeal of the revocation and listing by the Department of Health. The Administrative Law Judge found, after hearing testimony of witnesses, that she had caused abuse or neglect, and affirmed the Department’s decision. On appeal, the Appellate Division of Superior Court upheld the decision, saying “It is the public policy of the State “to secure for elderly patients, residents and clients of health care facilities serving their specialized needs and problems, the same civil and human rights guaranteed to all citizens . . . .” N.J.S.A. 52:27G-1. Thus, a resident of a long-term care facility “has the right to be free from verbal, sexual, physical, and mental abuse, corporal punishment, and involuntary seclusion.” 81 FR 68688, 68855 (2016); see also N.J.A.C. 8:39-4.1(a)(5). Such individuals are entitled “[t]o be treated with courtesy, consideration, and respect for the resident’s dignity and individuality.” N.J.A.C. 8:39-4.1(a)(12). To this end, “abuse” is defined as “the willful infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation, or punishment with resulting physical harm, pain, or mental anguish.” 42 C.F.R. § 488.301 (2003); see also N.J.S.A. 52:27G-2(a). “Neglect” is defined as the “failure to provide goods and services necessary to avoid physical harm, mental anguish, or mental illness.” 42 C.F.R. § 488.301 (2003).” 

The case is Carmen Amador vs New Jersey Department of Health, A-4259-16T2, decision issued June 7, 2018. The written decision is not precedential (is not approved for publication) and is limited to its particular facts.

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