In a recent blog posting, I noted the dangers posed against some nursing home residents not by nursing home staff, but by other residents. Residents who have known psychiatric conditions who tend to act violently pose a special threat against other residents. Tragically, a recent event in Florida illustrates this threat.
In June, the Jacksonville, Florida, staff at one nursing home found one resident – Freddie Lee Williams, 51 – sitting on top of another resident – Kevin Wilkes, age 32. Mr. Wilkes was found to be not breathing, and transported to a hospital. The following day he was pronounced dead.
Mr. Williams reportedly has hypertension, episodic mood disorder, obesity, paranoid schizophrenia, and suffers from an intellectual disability. Mr. Wilkes was also intellectually disabled, and suffered from epilepsy and autism, and was non-verbal.
As reported by First Coast News (FCN), during the approximately seven months that Mr. Williams had been at the facility he reportedly had sat on Mr. Wilkes at least three other times. FCN also reported that police were informed by a facility worker that when Williams became agitated, he often took out his anger on Wilkes.
It certainly is unfair to blame only Mr. Williams for the death of Mr. Wilkes. Because of his diminished mental capacity, it is unknown as to whether Mr. Williams had a normal appreciation of what might happen based upon his actions.
When a nursing home resident has violent tendencies, the nursing home must take care to ensure that such resident is not left in situations in which the resident may harm others. When the nursing home fails to take adequate precautions, they should be held accountable for the resulting consequences – including injuries and death – that result.