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April 17, 2013

A former Grand Rapids, North Dakota woman who has been charged with nursing home abuse, was granted permission by the courts this week to access the victim’s medical records.

According to reports, 36-year-old Heather Lynn Laird, a former employee of the the Dell Rapids Nursing and Rehab Center, reportedly abused an elderly patient during an assault last December. Laird pled not guilty to the charge, and her attorney recommended the victim’s medical records to be released so that a correlation between the assault incident and the victim’s mental condition could be established. Per medical records, the victim suffers from dementia and Laird’s attorney claims this may have made the elderly woman aggressive.

The judge granted Laird and her attorney the right to review the victim’s medical records, stating that since the accusation is so new, there wouldn’t be a problem. However, Lori Ehlers, the defense attorney for the state, feels that the records won’t have any impact on the case.

Laird and her attorney have also requested access to the medical records of the victim’s husband, stating that he has a past history of violence. Allegedly, the husband was said to have been in the room when the assault happened. Again, Ehlers stated that his records will not have an impact on the case either:

“None of the information we have indicates that he was with her in the room during that time frame,” Ehlers said.

In addition to criminal charges, Laird may also face civil charges should the victim’s family retain a nursing home abuse attorney and file for damages.

Laird was released from jail in January and remains free pending the trial outcome. She could face up to several years in prison if found guilty.

Source: http://www.argusleader.com/article/20130414/NEWS/304140027/Patient-records-ruled-accessible-Dell-Rapids-nursing-home-abuse-case

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