The Atlanta-based 11Alive television station has successfully convinced the Georgia State Supreme Court to allow it to show surveillance video taken from a nursing home showing one of its patients, a decorated veteran, begging for the nurses’ help as he struggles with his breathing, but the much-needed and potentially life-saving intervention came in way too late. The elderly patient and war veteran died. Worse, the nursing home staff were caught on camera laughing while the patient was left dying.
The incident happened at the Northeast Atlanta Health and Rehabilitation in 2014, and its lawyers tried to prevent the television station from obtaining the video and showing it to their viewers. The nursing home requested a DeKalb County judge to keep the video sealed and even tried to appeal to the Georgia State Supreme Court. The judge, however, ruled in favor of the television station.
The contested footage show disturbing video of how 89-year-old James Dempsey, a decorated World War II veteran from Woodstock, Georgia tried several times asking, even begging, for the nurses’ help because he couldn’t breathe anymore. But not only did the help come too late, there were serious procedure lapses committed by the nursing staff who attended to the dying patient. Worst of all, the footage also captured the staff laughing while the patient is struggling to stay alive.
The video obtained by the television station also includes about six hours of video court deposition from a nursing supervisor explaining how she actually responded to the patient before she knew that there was a hidden camera installed in the patient’s room. The answers the nursing supervisor gave were in contrast to what the video caught.
In the deposition, the supervisor claimed that they performed CPR on the patient when he stopped breathing. The video, however, shows otherwise. No CPR was performed on the dying veteran.
Dempsey called for help six times before he loses his consciousness while gasping for air. By the time the nursing staff arrived to check on Dempsey, he was no longer responsive. It also took almost an hour for the nursing home to call 911.
Another nurse was also shown in the video failing to check the patient’s vital signs.
The most disturbing part of the video shows that when the nurses were having difficulty getting Dempsey’s oxygen machine operational, the staff were seen and heard laughing.
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Dempsey’s family sued the Northeast Atlanta Health and Rehabilitation Center. The patient’s family is prevented from talking about what happened by a settlement they entered with the nursing home. But the journalist who worked on the network’s investigative story said they told him in private that they are disturbed by what was done to their loved one.
The nurses involved were also allowed to continue their practice even after the incident for nearly three years before their licenses were revoked only last September.