The Connecticut Department of Public Health announced last week that it had issued two citations and fined a Connecticut nursing home $2,250 for three separate incidents: a resident who had dementia fractured her hip as a result of a fall and subsequently died in the hospital (a nurse’s aide failed to place a tray table on the resident’s wheelchair as required by the resident’s care plan); another resident exited the nursing home but the alarm on the door failed to sound (the resident had removed an alarm bracelet) and the resident was found outside at 1:40 a.m, unresponsive, at the bottom of four stairs; and, a licensed practical nurse, a nurse’s aide, and a social work staffer failed to properly report their observations of a visitor they observed touching a resident’s breasts or with his hands down her pants (the nurse reportedly did not believe it was a “big deal because [the visitor] was an older gentleman”).
The Connecticut Department of Public Health announced that a second Connecticut nursing home was fined $1,580 for five separate incidents: the improper care of a resident who had developed a pressure ulcer; the failure to provide the proper psycho-social care for a violent resident; a resident who fell and suffered a fractured leg after the resident had disconnected an alarm that should have been placed out of the reach of the resident; the improper lifting of a resident that resulted in bruising; and, a resident who suffered a cut while being transferred from a wheelchair to bed when the resident became agitated.
A third Connecticut nursing home was fined $1,500 for a resident who was burned when a heating pad was left behind the resident’s knee for several hours rather than the one-half hour as ordered (a licensed practical nurse did not remove the heating pad before the end of her shift and failed to advise the next shift that the heating pad was behind the resident’s knee). The resident required skin graft surgery as a result of the severe burn.
The fourth Connecticut nursing home was fined $1,280 by the Connecticut Department of Public Health for a resident who fell from a toilet and hit his head on a sink, thereby suffering a cervical fracture for which the resident was required to wear a cervical collar (a nurse’s aide had left the resident alone despite the resident being identified at high risk for falls and despite the resident’s care plan requiring the resident to not be left alone).
Do these fines seem small relative to the harms sustained by the residents who were injured or died? What purpose is served by a fine against a nursing home in the amount of only $2,250 for three citations/violations, including one that resulted in the resident’s death? Is the fine supposed to punish the nursing home for prior bad care or is the fine (and the amount of the fine) intended to spark the nursing home to prevent substandard care in the future? Or is the fine simply a public relations gimmick so that the public believes that the care provided to residents in nursing homes is being properly reviewed and appropriately supervised by a state or local agency?
If you or a loved one may have been injured (or worse) while a resident of a nursing home in Connecticut or in another U.S. state, you should promptly seek the advise of a local nursing home lawyer in your state who may investigate your nursing home claim for you and represent you in a claim against a nursing home, if appropriate.
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