By Gregory H. Haubrich
Attorney at Law
His name was George. He was 92. He had Alzheimer’s disease. He was a father and had been a loving husband. His kids put him in this particular nursing home in Lawton, Oklahoma because it was close to one of his daughters and was a “skilled-care facility” with a “specialized Alzheimer’s unit.”
Except, not so much. Somehow George got a broken femur (large upper bone in leg) and several busted ribs. After an orthopedic surgeon put the leg in a cast and gave instructions for care, the splinters of the fracture shifted and the wound got infected underneath the cast. We know that the nurses had noticed this, because a circle was drawn around the seepage on the cast.
But the doctor was not called and nothing else was done. By the time the nursing home finally called for an ambulance and admission to a hospital several weeks later, George had gangrene, dehydration, malnutrition, pneumonia, bronchitis, and I can’t remember what else. He suffered so much. Just because he had severe Alzheimer’s does not mean he could not experience pain.
In the state of Oklahoma, nursing homes are regulated by the Department of Health. You can check the results of surveys and investigations of nursing homes on-line at the ODOH website.
In many cases, including the one above, the ownership of the nursing home is an investor who lives out of state and has little or no interest in the residents of the home except to the extent they generate profit or loss.
To compound the problem, the Oklahoma legislature amended our statutes in the late 1990s so that nursing homes are no longer required to even carry liability insurance.
Nursing homes do not have to be dirty. They do not have to provide substandard care. They do not have fail to turn patients, causing bedsores and gangrene and sepsis. They do not have to do “rote charting” or make false entries in patient records.
Why do none of us want to go to nursing homes or put our parents in them? Because we don’t trust them to do what they are supposed to do.
My dad resided in a nursing home in my home town for the last months of his life. He received outstanding, loving care and was as comfortable as he could have possibly been. That is the way it is supposed to be. That is what we should expect and receive for our family members at the later stages of life.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of nursing home negligence, contact me today for a free confidential case evaluation.