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Improper Care Leads to Nursing Home Death of Young Alzheimer’s Resident​

Family loses otherwise healthy man: Confidential settlement.

With more and more Oregonians living longer and with more serious health issues, nursing home neglect and abuse is an increasingly important issue. We helped the family of a 59-year old man who died following a short admission to a Memory Care Center. The man had developed early onset Alzheimer’s disease and needed supervision for medication management and for his wandering behaviors. He was still physically strong and active and needed to be protected from harm.  His wife had toured the facility before placing her husband there and was assured that the facility was a good fit for him and that a care plan would be developed to meet his needs. He needed a good medication management regimen, safety measures in place for his wandering behaviors, and some reminders related to his cognitive decline.  Other than that, he was physically capable and healthy.

We learned in the case that the administrator of the facility who was supposed to develop the man’s care plan had no medical training.  Care plans are what identify a patient’s medical needs and tell staff what tasks need to be performed to meet those needs and which staff is responsible for the tasks.  We learned that there were not enough trained staff to care for residents.  We learned that the staff was not qualified to take care of someone like this man but the administrator was paid bonuses for bringing residents into the facility, regardless of the facility’s ability to care for him, and bonuses for keeping costs, like staff costs and food budgets, low.

When the man was first admitted, his wife was told that there would be a period of adjustment and that the family would need to stop visiting for a short period of time to allow him establish himself there before they could visit him in person.   During this period, without his family to protect him and watch over him, this man deteriorated quickly.  In less than a month, her husband lost more than 20 pounds and was admitted to the emergency room of the hospital three times for fall-related injuries.  He was overmedicated and became severely dehydrated, and developed pneumonia and sepsis. He was transferred to the intensive care unit of the hospital only after the family had an outside nurse do an evaluation. He never recovered from the sepsis.

After the man’s death, the State of Oregon did an investigation and found that the memory care facility failed to screen him to determine if he was an appropriate resident for the facility, failed to appropriately prepare a care plan for him, made medication errors, interfered with resident’s visitation rights, failed to provide enough food and water, misrepresented his medical condition to his family, failed to assess his change of condition, and failed to report his change of condition to his family.

This facility neglected a resident in its care.  The family hired us to bring a claim as a result of what happened to their loved one. The case settled for a confidential sum.

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