An Anaheim nursing home has been fined $75,000 by the California Department of Health for incorrectly reporting that an elderly resident died of a heart attack when he actually choked to death on a tuna sandwich. CBS News reports in this article that California Health and Human Services documents show the Anaheim Crest Nursing Center resident suffered from dementia and was supposed to be given only pureed food.
The incident apparently occurred Sept, 9, but the Orange County nursing home falsely reported that he died of a heart attack. The nursing home did not divulge the fact that the resident had choked on the sandwich until the coroner ruled that the man choked to death. The nursing home’s attorney is saying that this happened because the nursing home conducted a second investigation after the autopsy and learned that the resident had grabbed a sandwich from a food tray. The nursing home is also appealing the $75,000 state fine.
Based on this news report, I get the sense that this was an attempted cover-up by nursing home staff. This man choked on a tuna sandwich. Obviously, someone at this Anaheim nursing home was not telling the truth. They changed the story after the coroner’s autopsy report came out that had a clearly stated cause of death.
This kind of deception by any professional organization or business, let alone a nursing home, is absolutely unacceptable. My heart goes out to family members of the deceased man. I can only imagine how tough this must have been for them emotionally. First, their loved one dies because of the Anaheim nursing home’s negligence. And secondly, they lie about it. Despicable!
Recent statistics clearly show that negligence and abuse in nursing homes across the nation are at an all-time high. 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.
The family of this deceased victim would be well-advised to contact an experienced Orange County nursing home negligence and abuse attorney, who will fight for their rights and hold this Anaheim nursing home responsible for their negligence, lack of concern for their patient and apparent dishonesty.