Recently, a story involving a long-term nursing facility in the Midwest made national headlines for all the wrong reasons.
One of their supposedly deceased residents was transported to a funeral home for embalming. When the mortuary staff unzipped the body bag about 90 minutes after the allegedly dead patient was zipped into it, they saw her chest moving as she gasped for breath.
When protocols aren’t followed, chaos ensues
As one can imagine, it was a startling experience. However, besides the traumatized funeral home staff, it was the patient who suffered the most from this egregious act of malpractice.
The Department of Inspection and Appeals for the state of Iowa states that the care facility for Alzheimer’s patients issued the “mistaken death declaration” on Jan. 3. A care staff provider reported the patient’s death at approximately 6 a.m. She had diagnoses of Alzheimer’s, depression and anxiety and was admitted to their facility for palliative care on Dec. 28.
Vital signs reportedly absent
After the care staff member reported the patient no longer had a pulse, a nurse practitioner examined her and declared that she was dead. That state allows death declarations from doctors, physician’s assistants and nurses.
The report also stated the patient’s skin was mottled, a sign that death is imminent.
The funeral home alerted 911
In an ironic reversal, EMTs were dispatched to take the still-alive patient from the funeral home to the emergency room, where she remained alive but nonresponsive. After being returned to hospice care, she passed away on Jan. 5.
Fines follow breach
The I & A agency fined the care facility $10,000 and deemed that they “failed to provide adequate direction to ensure appropriate care and services were provided” to the patient.
If you have a loved one who was a victim of malpractice, you may need to take the reins to see they get civil justice for their injuries, damages and losses.