In the Courts: Arizona Supreme Court Replaces Test for Actionability of Abuse Claims

July 28, 2017 | Aging Services Risk, Quality, & Safety Guidance

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​In a case in which a skilled nursing facility (SNF) resident died of sepsis, the Arizona Supreme Court has replaced an existing four-part test to determine whether a claim for abuse of a vulnerable adult is actionable with a new four-part test. In so ruling, the court reversed a trial court's order granting summary in favor of the defendants and remanded the case for further proceedings.

After being treated at four hospitals, the 74-year-old resident was admitted to the SNF for skilled nursing care and occupational and physical therapy. On her admission, she had multiple serious medical conditions, required use of a wheelchair, and needed help with many activities of daily living. Her condition improved at first, but within a few weeks, the resident had begun to eat and drink less, was confused, and would not get out of bed. Her treating physician ordered lab tests, and the results showed that the resident had "early" sepsis. The treating physician gave no new orders. By the next morning, the resident's condition had deteriorated further; she was lethargic, disoriented, and confused, and she had had nothing to eat or drink in two days. The assistant director of nursing was informed, but no new orders or treatments were provided. The resident died of...

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