DEATH WITHOUT DIGNITY: The Story of the First Nursing Home Corporation Indicted for Murder by Steven Long

DEATH WITHOUT DIGNITY: The Story of the First Nursing Home Corporation Indicted for Murder

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An account of a trial in which a corporation was indicted for complicity in the death of an 87-year-old black woman, through negligence. The case had further repercussions involving 60 other nursing-home residents who were allegedly abused in Texas. Long sets out to be gritty and down-to-earth early on. He declares in his forward, ""Rotting flesh, stale urine, dried feces, and physical abuse are pleasant only to a sick few."" Unfortunately, these are the leitmotifs of his book, which does not tell a pretty story, but reveals once again the very real problem of caring for America's old people in a system that seems increasingly cruel and inadequate. For this reason, Long's book has some value. As for a record of a particular trial, it is less satisfying. For one thing, the case itself was a frustrating one, with the jury deadlocked and the defense gaining a mistrial. Although legal expenses were involved, the whole exercise seemed to involve more legal trickery than actual addressing of the problems of geriatric care. For this reason, Long might have selected a more illuminating legal instance to speak about his main theme. Instead, he offers a lengthy book with lots of horror stories of bedsores and worse, but without a framework where these problems are in any way ameliorated. In short, the legal aspects of the case seem to swamp the medical ones, but it is the medical issues that are of principal concern. Little new on this agonizing subject, then, but this serves as a useful reminder that the problem of what to do with disabled older citizens still remains to be adequately addressed in our society.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1987
Publisher: Texas Monthly