Legal Eagle Eye Newsletter for the Nursing Profession (6)4 Apr 98


Quick Summary: A care worker accused of patient abuse is entitled to due process of law because once a name is placed in the abuse registry, it is accessible to future potential healthcare employers. 

The gravity of this situation invokes the constitutional right to due process of law.

A person’s name being placed in the state registry harms not only an individual’s good name, integrity or standing in the community, but also affects the individual’s present employment or effectively forecloses possible future employment as a caregiver. COURT OF APPEALS OF NEW YORK, 1997.


   The employer reported to the state commissioner of health’s office that a certified nursing assistant employed at a care center had abused a patient, that is, she struck the patient in the eye and caused a bruise.

   The Court of Appeals of New York believed the case was very straightforward. It ruled that the allegations against the aide were fully supported by the evidence, and approved placing her name in the state registry of persons found to have abused patients in the course of caregiving duties.

   The court also looked at another side of the issue. A person accused of abusing a patient has the right to a fair hearing, the court pointed out.

   If a caregiver's constitutional rights are ignored, there might be procedural grounds to void the caregiver’s name being placed in the state registry. This aide’s rights were fully protected. Miller v. DeBuono, 666 N.Y.S. 2d 548 (N.Y. App., 1997).