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Los Angeles County, California Nursing Home Death Leads to $75,000 Fine

December 31, 1969

State regulators have fine the Orchard-Post Acute Care $75,000 for a patient's Los Angeles County, California nursing home death. The 78-year-old man reportedly died after his feeding tube was incorrectly inserted. Per the California Department of Public Health's Web site, because of this mistake, medicine and food entered his peritoneal cavity instead of his stomach.

Following the error, the patient, who suffers from Alzheimer's an been living at the Whittier nursing home since 2008 after suffering a stroke, began complaining of stomach pain. He was transported to an emergency room where doctors discovered that his abdomen was inflamed and he was suffering from septic shock. The elderly patient underwent surgery and was hooked up to a ventilator before dying six days later.

In addition to the fine, the assisted living facility also received an "AA" citation over the incident, which is considered the most severe citation per state law. The California Department of Public Health says that inappropriate care and services resulted in the patient's passing.

This is the 63rd time in five years that the state of California has fined Orchard-Post Acute Care. When the assisted living facility was known as Royal Court Health Care, Nursing Home Compare, the federal ranking system, gave it two out of five stars.

Feeding Tubes
Some nursing home residents cannot eat and drink without the help of a feeding tube. In other instances, a feeding tube might be required to combat malnutrition or dehydration. While some feeding tubes are inserted through the nose, others must be placed into the stomach or small bowel. It is important that a feeding tube is properly inserted so the patient can receive all the nutrients that he/she needs. It is also important that the tube be inserted correctly to prevent complications. Possible risks include infection, aspiration, damage to the abdominal wall, skin irritation, and other health issues.

Dementia Patients and Feeding Tubes
A few months ago, the New York Times wrote about the use of feeding tubes for patients with dementia and the recent study, which found 13.7% of families surveyed said that doctors had inserted feeding tubes in their loved ones without obtaining anyone's consent. Considering that getting informed consent is part of proper medical procedure, even if a patient is suffering from mental illness, this finding gives one cause for concern. For 12.6% of families that did give their consent, they said they felt pressured to agree to the feeding tube. Some reported that discussion of possible risks was minimal. Also, opting to give patients with dementia feeding tubes didn't necessarily improve survival, treat bedsores, improve the quality of life, or treat pneumonia.

Nursing Home Negligence
Nursing home workers must be properly trained in working with feeding tubes. Should negligence, inexperience, or carelessness cause a person to sustain injury, illness, or not get the proper nutrition and liquids necessary to maintain his/health, the assisted living facility could be held liable for Los Angeles nursing home negligence.

State fines Whittier nursing home for resident's death, Los Angeles Times, August 17, 2011

When Demented Patients Receive Feeding Tubes, New York Times , May 9, 2011

CDPH Citation (PDF)

Read more about the nursing home fine

More Blog Posts:
San Bernardino Nursing Home Negligence?: Assisted Living Facility Fined $80,000 Over 2008 of Patient Who Became Accidentally Disconnected from Ventilator, California Injury Lawyers, July 8, 2011

Los Angeles Bedsore Lawsuit Claims LAC Medical Center Attempted to Conceal California Elder Neglect, California Injury Lawyers, June 25, 2011

Los Angeles Nursing Home Negligence?: 94-Year-Old Woman Discovered in Freezer of Calabasas Nursing Home, California Injury Lawyers, November 17, 2010

Contact our Los Angeles nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers at Howard Law, PC, today.