State health officials in Massachusetts have issued a scathing report on the operations of a nursing home in Brockton, a suburb of Boston, following the death of a dementia patient in April. An initial inquiry into that patient’s death prompted investigation into another a month earlier, which opened the doors to a floodgate of problems at the facility – owned by a larger, troubled, for-profit company – that temporarily blocked the facility from taking on more patients or receiving federal reimbursement for patient care.
Now, state investigators have released a 70-page report into the failures of the administrators and staffers at Braemoor Health Center which, according to The Boston Globe, hand’t properly trained its nurses or aides in how to revive a dementia patient who was suffering from a heart attack.
Further indignity occurred when nursing home staff didn’t even report the death to state health officials because, as nurses would later explain, the patient didn’t have any family. Investigators were later informed by a nursing home administrator that the clinical team at the center had actually made a conscious decision against reporting the death to officials, due to the negative press the facility’s parent company had received in recent months.
That’s when officials starting looking into a death that occurred a month before this one.
That case involved a younger patient who was recovering from an opioid addiction. The nursing home almost immediately began giving him opioids – without regard for whether it was the least invasive treatment or consideration of his medical history. Even after he was rushed to the hospital in an unresponsive state and hospital staffers cautioned the nursing home about his history, they did not attempt to wean him off the medication. He was then discharged for bringing alcohol to the facility and was not provided with adequate support. He died two days after his discharge of an opioid overdose.
These revelations prompted a surprise inspection of the facility in late June and another in early July. What they discovered was deeply disturbing. According to the report:
- The nursing home staff was not trained in basic life-support care;
- Machines necessary in the delivery of life-saving oxygen were empty;
- When a sudden heart attack called for certain equipment to restore a regular rhythm, staffers would find the equipment was not working properly;
- Doors and windows were missing functional alarms, which are necessary to keep dementia patients from wandering out of the building, where they could be hurt.
Following those inspections, nursing home regulators said they had no choice but to find the residents there were in immediate jeopardy. The facility was slapped with a $200,000 fine, ordered to stop taking patients and froze its receipt of Medicare payments. That was in early July, but the report that detailed the investigation that prompted this action was only released recently.
This facility is one of 11 run by a larger for-profit firm that has come under fire in recent months, following two other deaths at another nursing home in the same state.
As our West Palm Beach nursing home abuse lawyers have learned, these for-profit facilities have been shown via Governmental Accountability Office investigations to have, on the whole, more issues with chronic under-staffing and abuse.
The parent company has insisted it is correcting its wrongs and has submitted extensive plans of correction to state health officials and federal authorities. Part of the correction plan has involved conducting extensive training to ensure staffers are aware of how to care for patients with heart attacks and breathing problems. Administrators also say they have put in place a policy that will require staffers to routinely check certain medical equipment – particularly equipment that provides emergency oxygen or electrical pulses to the heart – to make sure they are in good working condition.
The hope is those policies will be adhered to in the future. However, that doesn’t help those who have already lost their lives. For their surviving family members, there may be grounds for a nursing home negligence lawsuit.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.
Blistering report details nursing home deaths, Aug. 12, 2016, By Kay Lazar, The Boston Globe
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