Within a span of just a few months, two residents at the same facility passed away as a direct result of nursing home neglect. That’s according to a new report by state health officials in Minnesota, whose findings were reported by the Star-Tribune.
The two separate incidents involve neglect and failed oversight, with one person suffering fatal injuries after a staffer used the wrong lift device and failed to get the proper assistance in moving the patient. In another case, an 85-year-old woman was denied life-saving measures during a heart attack because her directive on file was overlooked.
In many cases, nursing home neglect is the result of a combination of factors, namely:
- Lack of staff experience/ training.
- Failure to make there are enough staffers present to take care of patients’ basic needs.
- Failure to provide the appropriate equipment/ tools to properly care for residents.
- Lack of proper supervision.
Even when nursing homes are not directly liable for a patient’s injuries or death as a result of nursing home neglect, they can be vicariously liable. Per the legal doctrine of respondeat superior, which is Latin for, “Let the master answer,” a facility can be responsible for the negligent or abusive actions of an employee toward a patient if the worker was acting in the course and scope of employment. This is true regardless of whether there is evidence the nursing home itself actually did anything wrong.
Nursing home neglect is often less obvious than abuse because there may not be bruising or some other clear indication until the situation becomes serious. That’s why it’s so important for family members and loved ones to pay close attention to the level of staffing at the facility, the interactions between residents and staffers and the general hygiene of patients and cleanliness of the facility. Bedsores are a red flag that nursing home neglect may be ongoing.
In this case, the patient who died of injuries sustained in a fall had summoned for help to use the restroom. The hydraulic sling lift used for transfers of patients who are immobile required two staff members to help move them. However, there was reportedly only one staffer available to help. So instead of using the sling lift, the staff member used a standing apparatus, but the resident lost his balance, slipped out of the device and fell on top of the staffer. As a result, the resident suffered a broken hip and arm and later died in the hospital.
The staffer later acknowledged failure to review the resident’s care instructions in the care file. The staffer was placed on administrative leave and later received additional retraining for proper patient transfer procedures.
A few months earlier at the same place, a patient suffering a heart attack was initially treated with CPR, but then a nurse stopped the efforts after indicating (erroneously) the residents’ health care directives indicated there should be no life-saving actions. The nurse later conceded she misunderstood the directive. The state’s investigation revealed there were numerous staffers who were responsible for this breach in care. Additionally, the CPR that was given was done on a bed, rather than on a firm backboard.
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Neglect led to 2 deaths a few months apart at Waconia nursing home, state finds, Jan. 4, 2017, By Paul Walsh, Star Tribune
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Report: Nursing Home Residents Empowered by New Federal Rules, January 17, 2017, Fort Myers Nursing Home Lawyer