A Bakersfield nursing home is appealing a $100,000 state fine imposed for the death of a resident who investigators say choked on a tomato ketchup packet, The Bakersfield Californian reports in an October 23, 2008 article. California Department of Health investigators said the staff at Glenwood Gardens’ skilled nursing facility knew the 84-year-old man constantly tried to eat non-edible objects, but did not do anything to stop him from ingesting the ketchup packet in 2006. The patient had been diagnosed with dementia and breathing problems. A mortuary embalmer apparently discovered the ketchup packet wedged in the back of the man’s throat.
The state’s report also stated that the nursing home staff failed to come up with an effective plan to prevent the resident from eating non-edible items. Glenwood Gardens received the AA citation, which is issued when a resident death has occurred directly as a result of the nursing home’s negligence.
What did Glenwood Gardens officials have to say with regard to their appeal of the citation? That there “were no grounds we could find for the citation.”
According to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report in 2003, the magnitude of serious deficiencies that harmed nursing home residents remains “unacceptably high.”
One in five nursing homes nationwide – about 3,500 facilities – have serious deficiencies that cause residents actual harm or place them in immediate jeopardy, the report said. Moreover, the GAO report also found significant understatements of the care problems that should have been treated a lot more seriously – pressure sores, severe weight loss and multiple falls resulting in broken bones and other injuries.
It is appalling that this Bakersfield nursing home is appealing this citation. As California health department officials pointed out, nursing home staff did nothing to come up with an effective plan to care for this elderly patient. Further, they apparently did not tell the man’s family, even after his death, about the ketchup packet he had ingested. It was the mortuary embalmer who had to tell the family about it!
I trust the victim’s family has retained an experienced California nursing home negligence attorney to go after Glenwood Gardens. Not only have they neglected to care for a frail and ill resident, but they have declined to accept the consequences of their wrongdoing. The victim’s family deserves to be compensated for the emotional pain and suffering they have been put through.