Virginia: Medical Malpractice – a Lawyer’s Forgery

The Court of Appeals of Virginia’s Opinion in Beshah v. Commonwealth, No. 2070-10-4 (Va. app. May 8, 2012) proves what Plaintiff medical malpractice lawyers have complained for decades: despite the criminality of it, healthcare providers in Virginia fabricate patient charts to cover their tracks! Beshah upheld the multiple forgery convictions of a licensed practical nurse (“LPN”) who made at least 50 documented false entries in the neglected patient’s records, plus offered “perjured testimony” at trial in her defense.

Defendant LPN in Beshah perpetrated her frauds while working at a Medicaid-certified skilled nursing home in Arlington. Id. at 2. “During [2-month FBI] surveillance, as shown on video, [the LPN] did not administer some medications as prescribed, but she recorded having administered those medications. [The LPN] also failed to perform nursing care she documented she had performed. [The LPN] recorded vital signs when she had not taken them, recorded turning and repositioning [the patient] when she had not done so, and recorded performing incontinence care when she had not. She fabricated entries in [the patient’s] medical records numerous times during the surveillance period.” Id. at 3.

The LPN’s “failure to accurately document was not an isolated event, but was a pattern of behavior to misrepresent that status of the patient’s treatment and medication.” Id. at 8. Beshah observed that the LPN’s misrepresentations were “potentially dangerous” to the patient crime victim, who was “high risk” as elderly, infirm, immobile, and demented. Id. at 2-4.

Although the LPN was the focus of the Beshah Opinion, a Grand Jury also indicted “a number of other employees of Potomac Center for crimes involving [the patient’s] care”! Id. at 4. One criminal defense lawyer represented 6 of the healthcare employees alone! Id.