When it comes to vulnerable individuals, particularly the elderly or infirmed, pneumonia presents not just an illness, but a condition that could lead to death if left unattended by doctors. In western Minnesota, an elderly nursing home resident was hospitalized after he was found to have numerous open sores on his body, very dry skin, and exhibited symptoms of malnourishment and dehydration. Prior to being rushed to the hospital, the nursing home staff gave him extra oxygen as well as cough syrup to help with his breathing problems as well as his changing body temperature. They added Tylenol to the mix as well, and used a cold cloth to try to control his temperature. When he got to the hospital, he was not responsive. Hospital staff diagnosed the pneumonia there, and noticed that he had very little food or liquid, in addition to the clear sores and dryness on his skin. Sadly, within three days he had succumbed to the pneumonia.
Staff Never Notified the Doctor
There is a particularly disturbing aspect of this case that will undoubtedly put this nursing home in a bigger spotlight, and should be of tremendous concern to nursing home consumers and their families. While clearly there must have been questions as to the chosen methods to treat the patient – Tylenol, cough syrup, and oxygen – for pneumonia symptoms, the astounding discovery was that nursing home staff allegedly failed to even once consult a doctor about the patient’s symptoms that affected his body temperature and breathing abilities.
They merely tried to treat the patient themselves until a more heightened temperature and worse breathing finally prompted them to do something else and send him to the hospital. However, too much damage was possibly done, and he eventually passed away. To add to this sad story, the victim’s family was not notified of this man’s bad condition, either, until the night before he was hospitalized when they were told he had a cold and high temperature.
History of Documented or Alleged Negligence
According to newspaper reports, the owner of this particular nursing home operates a total of 26 facilities in Minnesota alone, and nearly 300 across the country. This one patient is one of others who have problems as a result of alleged negligence at other facilities owned by this particular owner. As is typically the case when incidents of abuse or negligence occurs and a facility is put on warning or subject to sanctions, this facility reportedly submitted a plan to make fixes and re-train staff with regard to when to notify a doctor of problems. Notably, the victim’s doctor was reported as having said he expects to be notified of a “patient’s failing condition” days prior to resorting to hospitalization.
Scrutinize Nursing Homes Carefully
This particular facility’s apparent history of negligence and consequent citations makes it clear the importance of consumers researching facilities as thoroughly as possible through state health or aging departments as well as through the federal government’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which publishes ratings on its Nursing Home Compare website. The alleged negligence in this Minnesota case is horrendous, as the patient is said to have not received water or food, did not have adequate oxygen, and was left with open sores which can initially develop due to being in the same position for prolonged periods, a failure to change bedding, and/or failure to adequate bathe a patient and can only get worse without cleaning and proper treatment and dressing. Staffers seemingly lacked the training to know best when to consult a doctor when a patient had deteriorating circumstances. Properly trained and educated nursing home staff is crucial to the proper care of residents.
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