When placing a loved one in a nursing home, Oregonians are literally placing their loved one's health and lives in the hands of the facility. Unfortunately, the health and mental state of nursing home residents often makes them extremely vulnerable to negligence or acts of medical malpractice. Even the smallest mistake can have catastrophic consequences. All too often, these mistakes can result in the wrongful death of a nursing home resident.
A disturbing report was recently issued regarding three Bay Area nursing homes. The state department of health fined the nursing homes for incidents that resulted in the deaths of three residents. The fines totaled $200,000. The citations issued were the most serious form of penalty allowed under state law.
In one of the deadly incidents, staff members found a 74-year-old with an arm bandage soaked in blood. A registered nurse at the facility told investigators that she neither identified the cause of the bleeding nor did she apply direct pressure to the wound. The resident ultimately bled to death. In another fatal accident, staff members found a paralyzed resident with his ventilator turned off. A respiratory therapist was cleaning the resident's tracheostomy and placed the ventilator on standby. The respiratory therapist later told investigators he could not remember if he turned the ventilator back on when he had finished. The third incident occurred on an outing for nursing home residents. The victim was on a restricted diet due to a history of choking. The staff members overseeing the outing were not aware of the resident's restricted diet. He later died after choking on a hot dog.
The pain associated with the loss of a loved one can be made much worse if such a loss could have been prevented. Negligence at nursing homes is not to be tolerated, because such acts or omissions can have deadly consequences. The surviving family members of victims have legal rights, and in many cases can pursue a wrongful death claim on the behalf of their loved one.
Source: Silicon Valley Mercury News, "Deaths of Bay Area nursing home residents draw fines," Sandy Kieffman, June 14, 2013