In my world involving allegations of nursing home abuse and neglect, one of the more disturbing trends I’m seeing and influx of cases involving altered and forged records. Sure, there are cases where we consult with a forensic document examiner, but having every set of medical records examined by a forensic expert, just isn’t practical from a time or economic perspective.
In cases where we are able to demonstrate that the patients chart was indeed altered, this little tidbit of information can be incredibly powerful both from a position of negotiation or used at trial to really incite a jury.
Unfortunately, the cases where my office is able to connect the dots with the forged records with supporting documentation, come about relatively infrequently. The majority of cases I see where altered records never get discovered simply because the party involved is incapable of testifying or deceased.
In a somewhat unusual situation, a former nursing home administrator has pleaded guilty to charges related to obstruction of justice stemming from an incident where she intentionally mislead federal officials conducting a criminal investigation relating to a the authenticity of an admission document that was (wrongfully) signed by a patient.
Kimberly Boccacio, the former nursing home administrator at Haven health Center of Jewett City (Connecticut) involved in the incident was sentenced to three years of probation for her crime.
Despite the relative infrequency with which these incidents occur, anytime there is even an allegation of altered or destroyed medical records, I feel as though these occurrences pose a significant blow to the credibility of the medical field and form the basis of mistrust amongst patients and medical facilities. Hopefully, as more of these document destruction occurrences come to light, it will act as a deterrent at other facilities encourage them to accurately preserve patients’ charts.