Posted June 27, 2001
In November of 2000, the Houston Court of Appeals (145th District) interpreted the meaning of “neglect” under the Health & Safety Code in Gonzales v. Methodist Retirement Communities, 33 S.W.3rd 882. Because the legislature did not define this term, the Court looked at common usage. Looking at dictionaries such as Webster’s, the Court focused on terms such as “omit, disregard, and ignore.” Thus, the Court concluded that the intent:
“most likely meant in Section 242.133 is that by ignoring, disregarding, or being inattentive to the resident, the resident falls into a condition of want or suffering.”
The Court then ruled:
“The implication is that the neglect occurs over a period of time that, in
relation to the resident’s condition before the inattention, is significant
enough to cause a condition of want or suffering.”
With regard to the time frame the Court mentioned above, it said:
“Thus, for a severely ill patient, a short amount of time may suffice
to amount to neglect; for a healthier resident, a longer time may be
Given this ruling, TDHS should take into account a time frame of inattention, and condition of the resident before citing neglect.
All information in this article is informational only and is not legal advice. Should you have any questions or a situation requiring advice, please contact an attorney.
Copyright 2004 by Garlo Ward, P.C., all rights reserved
Austin, Texas 78752-3714 USA