NRS 200.495 is the Nevada statute that prohibits the criminal neglect of patients. It holds professional caretakers criminally liable for failing to provide a reasonable standard of care.
If the victim sustains substantial bodily harm, professional caretakers face category B felony charges carrying up to 6 years in prison (or up to 20 years if death results). Otherwise, the criminal neglect of patients is a gross misdemeanor carrying up to 364 days in jail and/or up to $2,000 in fines.
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:
- 1. What is the criminal neglect of patients in Nevada?
- 2. How can I fight NRS 200.495 charges?
- 3. Will I go to prison?
- 4. Can I seal my record?
1. What is the criminal neglect of patients in Nevada?
Nevada’s legal definition of criminal neglect of patients is when professional caretakers fail to provide the care reasonable and necessary to maintain a patient’s health and safety.
Specifically, you commit criminal neglect of patients when all three of these conditions are true:
- Your actions are aggravated, reckless, or gross;
- A reasonable person in the same circumstances would not do what you did; and
- The consequences of your actions were reasonably foreseeable.
Example: Max is a patient at a Henderson long-term care hospital. His nursing assistant Janey purposely stops changing his sheets because Max keeps complaining about being moved. Soon Max develops bedsores that become infected.
Here, Janey could face criminal neglect charges because developing bedsores was a reasonably foreseeable consequence of Janey’s choice not to provide standard patient care.
Note that NRS 200.495 applies to all medical workers including physicians, nurses, and caretakers. It does not apply to administrative or management staff unless they know of the criminal neglect and take no action to stop it.1
2. How can I fight NRS 200.495 charges?
In our experience representing physicians, nurses, and other healthcare workers, the D.A. has a very difficult time winning cases for criminal neglect of patients. The law is highly specific and subjective, which gives us many ways to raise a reasonable doubt.
Three effective defenses to these criminal charges are:
- Honest mistake. Nevada law explicitly states that it does not punish “mistaken judgments.” As long as we can show your actions did not rise to the level of an “aggravated reckless or grossly negligent act or omission,” you committed no crime.
- Living will. Patients may draw up living wills to direct doctors on whether or not to treat them in end-of-life situations. If we can show that your patient had a living will which you followed, then you committed no crime by not ordering CPR, etc.
- Patient’s religion. In most cases, patients have the right to forgo medical treatments that go against their religion. If we can show that your patient expressly or impliedly objected to standard medical care out of religious beliefs, then you should not be convicted of criminal neglect.
3. Will I go to prison?
Nevada’s punishment for criminal neglect of patients depends on whether the victim died or was seriously injured:
|Status of patient||Penalties for criminal neglect|
|Patient passed away||Category B felony:
|Patient sustained substantial bodily harm||Category B felony:
|Patient did not die nor sustain substantial bodily harm||Gross misdemeanor:
The victim or their family members can also bring a personal injury lawsuit, which is completely separate from the criminal case. You could win the criminal case and still be found liable in the civil case.
See our related article on elder abuse and endangerment, which typically involves the infliction of physical, financial, or mental harm on people 60 and older.
4. Can I seal my record?
Yes. If you were convicted of criminal neglect of patients as a category B felony, you can petition for a record seal five years after the case ends. If your conviction was for a gross misdemeanor, then you can petition for a seal two years after the case ends.
Note that there is no waiting period to petition for a record seal if your charge has been dismissed.3 Learn more about sealing Nevada criminal records.
Are you under investigation by the police department? Contact our criminal law firm for legal advice. Our defense lawyers represent health care professionals in Clark County and throughout the state of Nevada.
Is your loved one an older person or a vulnerable person who has been neglected or abused? Our personal injury attorneys can sue the responsible care facility for nursing home abuse. We may also be able to bring medical malpractice lawsuits as well.
- Nevada Revised Statute 200.495. Definition; penalties. 1. A professional caretaker who fails to provide such service, care or supervision as is reasonable and necessary to maintain the health or safety of a patient is guilty of criminal neglect of a patient if:
(a) The act or omission is aggravated, reckless or gross;
(b) The act or omission is such a departure from what would be the conduct of an ordinarily prudent, careful person under the same circumstances that it is contrary to a proper regard for danger to human life or constitutes indifference to the resulting consequences;
(c) The consequences of the negligent act or omission could have reasonably been foreseen; and
(d) The danger to human life was not the result of inattention, mistaken judgment or misadventure, but the natural and probable result of an aggravated reckless or grossly negligent act or omission.
2. Unless a more severe penalty is prescribed by law for the act or omission which brings about the neglect, a person who commits criminal neglect of a patient:
(a) If the neglect results in death, is guilty of a category B felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 1 year and a maximum term of not more than 20 years.
(b) If the neglect results in substantial bodily harm, is guilty of a category B felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 1 year and a maximum term of not more than 6 years, or by a fine of not more than $5,000, or by both fine and imprisonment.
(c) If the neglect does not result in death or substantial bodily harm, is guilty of a gross misdemeanor.
3. For the purposes of this section, a patient is not neglected for the sole reason that:
(a) According to the patient’s desire, the patient is being furnished with treatment by spiritual means through prayer alone in accordance with the tenets and practices of a church or religious denomination. Subsection 1 does not authorize or require any medical care or treatment over the implied or express objection of such a patient.
(b) Life-sustaining treatment was withheld or withdrawn in accordance with a valid declaration by the patient or his or her agent pursuant to NRS 162A.790.
4. Upon the conviction of a person for a violation of the provisions of subsection 1, the Attorney General shall give notice of the conviction to the licensing boards which:
(a) Licensed the facility in which the criminal neglect occurred; and
(b) If applicable, licensed the person so convicted.
5. As used in this section:
(a) “Medical facility” has the meaning ascribed to it in NRS 449.0151.
(b) “Patient” means a person who resides or receives health care in a medical facility.
(c) “Professional caretaker” means a person who:
(1) Holds a license, registration or permit issued pursuant to title 54 or chapter 449 of NRS;
(2) Is employed by, an agent of or under contract to perform services for, a medical facility; and
(3) Has responsibility to provide care to patients.
The term does not include a person who is not involved in the day-to-day operation or management of a medical facility unless that person has actual knowledge of the criminal neglect of a patient and takes no action to cure such neglect.
- Same. See also: Desai v. State, (2017) 133 Nev. 339, 398 P.3d 889 (re. syringe reuse); Lakeman v. State, (2016) 132 Nev. 997.
- NRS 179.245. NRS 179.255.