When a 64-year-old woman was admitted into an Iowa nursing home, the woman’s doctor ordered that her airway be suctioned when mucous formed in her throat. The nursing home knew that without an open airway, the woman would be unable to breath and that she would die. That is just what happened on June 22, 2012, when the woman’s two visiting daughters (who worked in the laundry and housekeeping departments of the nursing home) came to visit their mother early in the morning.
One daughter arrived at about 7:30 a.m. and heard her mother calling out her name. The daughter observed food on her mother’s lips and that her mother was trying to clear her throat. The daughter quickly got a licensed practical nurse from the staff of the nursing home to come to her mother’s room but the licensed practical nurse only wiped her mother’s mouth and then told the daughter that she had eight other nursing home residents she needed to attend to and left the room without suctioning her mother.
When the other daughter arrived shortly thereafter, she observed that her mother was in distress and she left her mother’s room to find help (the first daughter remained in her mother’s room while the second daughter left the room to get help). A certified nursing assistant entered the room and was told that the mother needed help. The certified nursing assistant attempted to have the mother clear her throat by coughing but was unsuccessful. The certified nursing assistant wheeled the mother from her room to the nursing home’s assisted dining room but returned a few minutes later with the mother, along with a registered nurse.
The registered nurse observed that the suction machine in the mother’s room was not put together for immediate use and needed parts not in the mother’s room. The registered nurse began putting the parts of the machine together so that it could be used to suction the mother. Once the parts were obtained and the suction machine was put together, the registered nurse began to suction the mother for about two minutes but it was too late — the mother had died.
The investigation report from the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals, Health Facilities Division, contains a summary of the statements from the family members and the nursing home staff that were obtained about six weeks after the incident. There are discrepancies and inconsistencies within the statements but everyone agreed that the mother needed suctioning and that the suction machine was not ready for use and had to be put together while the woman was choking, shortly after which the mother died.
The Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals, Health Facilities Division, determined to cite the nursing home for infractions and recommended a fine in the amount of $8,000 for the incident that led to the mother’s death.
The report of the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals, Health Facilities Division, for this incident can be read by clicking here.
If you or a loved one suffered injuries or other harms in an Iowa nursing home or in a nursing home in another state in the U.S., you should promptly seek the advice of an Iowa nursing home attorney or a nursing home attorney in your state to help you find answers to your questions and to file a nursing home claim on your behalf, if appropriate.
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