In an incredibly disturbing story out of Bangor, Maine, a nursing home resident was found to have had maggots in his chest area. The discovery came after the resident reported feeling itching and burning in the chest area under where he had bandages. The resident lived at the Eastside Center for Health and Rehabilitation, and an anonymous complaint to state health authorities, specifically the Main Department of Health and Human Services, prompted the state’s Division of Licensing and Regulatory Services to conduct an inspection of the nursing home facility. The report explains how when the patient’s bandages were removed from his chest, nursing home staff found larvae in the area, and moved to treat it. Without getting into anything more detailed on the infection itself, which obviously paints a disturbing picture, it is clear that the facility is in a deep amount of trouble.
Nursing home facilities and health care providers are governed by state laws and regulatory agencies (generally state health departments, and/or possibly departments of aging in some areas), but if they receive federal dollars through programs like Medicare and Medicaid, they will also be subject to certain regulations by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as a condition of taking that federal insurance money for services rendered to insured patients. Thus as a result of this federal jurisdiction, the nursing home will face federal penalties for this terrible breach. In fact, the inspection report cited here and in news articles is one performed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Inspectors not only found out about this ghastly scene, but also generally found that the facility environment was poorly maintained, with multiple open areas for pests and flies to get into the building. For example, window screens may not have adequately fit the actual window space. As the inspection report notes, “the facility failed to ensure the environment was free from hazards associated with windows with broken and missing screens . . . [which] contributed to the admittance of flies into the building that infested 1 of 3 residents wound area with larvae.” As reported, the nursing home has since replaced all of its windows, has added bug lights to repel pests, and has otherwise tried to improve its protocols to prevent pest infestations, including hiring a pest control company and hiring a contractor to install functional windows or otherwise seal the non-functioning windows, and to ensure that windows had proper handles and methods of sealing shut.
This case appears to be one of negligence. Perhaps it is not so much for ignoring a patient or failing to tend to him, but rather as a failure to properly maintain the facility which itself has a direct effect on the well-being of patient residents. And there is still the question of why the complaint had to be made anonymously, and why the wound under the bandage was infected so badly. A routine check and changing of those bandages would have revealed any remote problem, and likely would have prevented any infestation.
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