Disabled Adult deprived of life saving medication in nursing home
We represented the family of a Vietnam vet who was at a skilled nursing home for an organic brain syndrome that led to a seizure disorder. The seizure disorder was controlled with medication. The man was able to move around in his wheelchair on his own and enjoy his life at the facility. One night, he was brought to the nurses’ station by a CNA who reported that he was groggy and sluggish and later that night he was not responsive and he was clutching his blanket. In the middle of the night, he was sent by ambulance to the local hospital.
When he arrived at the hospital, the Emergency Room physician took a history, did an examination, and ordered a lab to test the level of anti-seizure medication in the vet’s blood. The hospital nursing notes indicate that the man was lethargic and unable to track sounds. The labs showed that his anti-seizure medication level was “basically zero.”
The facility records show that he had a significant change when the vet returned after this hospital visit. He was described as lethargic, non-responsive, and unable to take food and water. He became difficult to arouse. A few days later, he was unresponsive and he died.
On the day of his death, his primary care physician had seen him at the skilled nursing home and the physician wrote that there was a concern that a particular medical aide was not giving him his anti-seizure medication. The physician further wrote that the medical aide was on suspension and possibly fired. The State agency responsible for investigating abuse and neglect of disabled people came in to investigate the vet’s death and they concluded that while the facility medical aide had documented that they had given him anti-seizure medication, he clearly had not been given it. It also concluded that other residents had not received their medications during the same time period. During the litigation we later prosecuted, we learned that this facility had received numerous complaints about this medical aide before this man’s death.
This Vietnam vet suffered an unnecessary and cruel premature death. The facility knew that it had a problem employee on their hands, an employee who presented a danger to the residents they were charged with caring for and protecting, but they sat on their hands, endangering the health and safety of their residents. After extensive litigation, this case was settled at mediation for a confidential amount.
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