Sometimes the lack of supervision and awareness of nursing home resident activities is so lacking that it shocks the senses. That is exemplified by a situation that made national news last week. Along with the rest of the country, our Illinois nursing home abuse lawyers were shocked to read about a man who died in a nursing home fire. The fire was apparently caused by problems in a homemade methamphetamine lab that was being run out of one of the room’s in the home. It should go without saying that not noticing that drugs were being made in the facility is a clear signal of nursing home neglect.
According several a stories on the incident over the weekend, a medical examiner ruled the man’s death an accident; he died after suffering burns on over ninety percent of his body. The thirty-one year old victim was actually not a resident of the facility. However, he was in a resident room when the fire struck. He initially survived the fire, but the burns ultimately proved too extensive and he died the next day. The thirty-one year old man was not the only casualty. At least four other people were also hospitalized as a result of the nursing home fire. Two others received some injuries, but they were treated at the scene and did not need hospitalization.
Investigators have explained that they believe at least one resident and two non-residents were aware of the meth lab inside the facility. Two of the individuals injured in the fire are expected to be charged with crimes for their role in the drug production scheme. The investigation into the situation is still ongoing, and there is some confusion as to whether there was a makeshift meth lab actually operating or if there whether one had simply brought in the materials into a room needed to make meth. According to authorities, the fire damaged one room and part of a hallway on the second floor of the facility. Air quality concerns existed after the fire, which likely contributed to several residents who lived in nearby rooms being moved to a different facility temporarily
Not surprisingly, the facility in question has faced inadequate caregiving citations in the past. Last summer the facility was citing for failing to provide care to a resident who had broken a leg and for failing to notice critical changes in vital signs of one ill resident. Federal investigators are looking into this fire to determine what penalties to impose on the home. The facility may ultimately lose its license, because state officials have already taken the initial steps in that direction.
The Chicago nursing home neglect attorneys at our firm appreciate that this case is indicative of the product of abysmal supervision and oversight at some of the worst-performing nursing homes. If a meth lab is concocted in a nursing home, imagine what other lapses might be allowed which could place the residents in jeopardy. This nursing home neglect is a concern to all of us. Not only are the lives of area seniors on the line, but in most cases the public is actually funding the care being provided via Medicare and Medicaid. Therefore, we all have a role in calling out facilities that egregious drop the ball and fail to provide even a pretense of decent care to the vulnerable seniors who are relying on them.
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