Wis. Convicts Ill. Woman on Elder Neglect, Filing Fraudulent Insurance Claims

October 15, 2004

Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager announced that Stephanie Lambert, 39, of Roscoe, Illinois, was found guilty by Rock County Circuit Court Judge James Daley after pleading to one count of felony neglect of a resident and two counts of misdemeanor fraudulent insurance claims. Sentencing has been scheduled for Jan. 26, 2005.

According to the Department of Justice’s criminal complaint, between December 2001 and March 2002, Lambert was employed as the administrator at Encore Senior Living in Janesville, a community-based residential facility in Janesville, Wis. Her responsibilities included monitoring any changes in the medical condition of the residents noted by the caregiver staff and reporting the changes to the registered nurse employed by Encore. The registered nurse would use this information to arrange for further assessment or intervention and treatment, as appropriate.

In October 2001, the victim-resident was admitted to Encore as a result of her increasing infirmities of aging and mental illness. Soon after the resident was transferred to Mendota Mental Health facility for further evaluation. When the resident returned to Encore in early December 2001, she was suffering from skin ulcers on her feet and ankle areas. No other physical problems were noted at the time the resident returned to Encore from Mendota.

In mid-December 2001, a small area of red skin was noted by caregivers on the resident’s coccyx area (tailbone). After a few days the red area opened and became a pressure sore. Lambert reportedly instructed the caregivers not to write in the daily logs about the care of the coccyx ulcer. She told them to make entries regarding the coccyx care in a special notebook that she provided for that purpose. Even as the wound was getting worse, Lambert reportedly assured the staff that the registered nurse was aware of the situation and that it was being handled properly. Lambert suggested to concerned staff-members who persisted in wanting to speak to the registered nurse directly, that if that happened, the staff would reportedly regret it.

In March 2002, the registered nurse first became aware of the ulcer on the resident’s coccyx which by this time was several inches long, several inches wide and several inches deep, exposing the bone. The registered nurse immediately confronted Lambert about having concealed the resident’s condition from her, at which time Lambert resigned her position and left the building. On April 4, 2002, the resident passed away due to an infection from the ulcer on her coccyx.

During an investigation conducted by Encore, it was reportedly discovered that Lambert had illegally ordered medical treatment for the resident’s wound and then falsified records to prevent her superiors from discovering her illegal conduct. The investigation also showed that Lambert had also falsified training records to make it appear the staff had received required training when they had not.

Lautenschlager concluded, “To blatantly falsify records and neglect a patient in a nursing home setting is an assault on the public’s trust in such facilities, and a severe sentence is fitting in such cases.”

Lambert faces up to 26.5 years in prison and $120,000 in fines.

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