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East coast nursing home death brings large fine

A nursing home located in a state neighboring Pennsylvania was fined by state officials after the choking death of a resident in April. Curiously, this nursing home death is the fourth such tragic incident in nursing homes in that state in 2012. Two aides were also fired as a result of this tragedy. These incidents are not confined to this state as Pennsylvania also has had its share of accidental or negligent nursing home deaths.

Department of Health inspectors found that a female resident, while on a soft food-only diet, was given a piece of ham, along with a crisp, hard cookie. The resident's nursing aide, who was supervising the victim, admitted to inspectors that she hadn't examined the victim's meal plan. A dietary aide, who served the meal, believed the food was "soft enough" for the resident.

Both aides were terminated. The home administrator has now directed personnel to review all residents' meal requirements prior to serving them any food. No such directive previously existed, as officials maintained that aide certification training includes meal plan verification as a component.

The nursing home has now filed a "plan of corrective action" with the Health Department, which they accepted as sufficient to meet compliance regulations. Facility fines include $615 from the state and a $10,000 civil penalty from the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services. The nursing home was also barred from receiving Medicare and Medicaid payments until the corrective plans were put into action.

Corrective actions include color coding meal tickets, re-training of nurse and dietary personnel, notifying dietary aides of resident diet modifications and re-labeling diet trays to avoid delivering inappropriate meals. Hopefully, this new corrective plan will eliminate any future repetitions of serving the "wrong" meals to elderly residents with allergies or who are on specific diet restrictions.

Do you believe that most nursing homes are safe places for elderly residents to get the care they need? Should these corrective actions eliminate similar accidents?

Source: News Times, "Southbury nursing home fined for resident's death," John Pirro, Aug. 1, 2012

Our Pennsylvania law firm handles wrongful death cases, including those pertaining to the type discussed in today's post. Please visit our Pittsburgh nursing home negligence page to learn more about us.

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