Illinois Nursing Home Death May Lead to Criminal Neglect Charges

Following the nursing home death of a woman who wandered outside of The Arbor Nursing Home in Itasca, Illinois on February 5, 2009, the family filed a civil nursing home neglect lawsuit against the facility and at least four employees may now be charged criminally for their gross negligence and for trying to cover up the cause of the death.

Sarah Wentworth was 89 years old when she was found dead from hypothermia outside of the nursing home after wandering out of the facility in only her nightgown. The resident, who was suffering from dementia, was wearing an ankle bracelet that triggered an alarm at the nurses station. However, authorities indicate that a nursing home employee did not check on her when she heard the alarm because she was too busy watching a TV show.

After her body was found outside in the freezing temperatures around 5 a.m., officials have indicated that the employees attempted to cover up the nursing home death by placing her body back in bed and claiming that she died in her sleep.

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Police began investigating the death after it was noticed that she was cooler to the touch than room temperature and the medical examiner listed one of the causes of death as hypothermia, which occurs when the body temperature drops below that required to sustain life.

Wentworth’s three daughters filed a nursing home wrongful death lawsuit against the facility last week in Cook County Circuit Court alleging that the nursing home and staff were negligent in failing to provide proper training for their staff, supervision of the resident and medical care.

The nursing home policy requires the workers to inspect the 90 feet fro the courtyard door to the nursing station when an alarm goes off to ensure that no resident has wandered outside.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Illinois Health Department officials and the DuPage County State’s Attorney are continuing their investigation into Wentworth’s death.


  • TheresaFebruary 24, 2009 at 12:25 am

    Apparently this person was not the right person for the job anybody that would let a buzzer go off in a nursing home and not check because she was watching tv must be very insensative I am sure she would check if it were her family My Aunt was a very good fun loving person and this should have never happen to her We all will miss her very much

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