Family of Disabled Man Accuses Nursing Home, Guardian of Neglect

On behalf of Brown & Crouppen, P.C. posted in Medical Malpractice on Monday, April 18, 2011

The sister of a developmentally disabled St. Louis man who was rushed from his nursing home to the hospital near death on April 10 blamed the home for his deteriorated health, and his court-appointed guardian for nearly allowing him to die at the hospital. Both the facility and the guardian, the Cape Girardeau Public Administrator, deny neglecting the man and say they are doing what they can for him. The nursing home, Normandy Nursing Center, has been investigated previously for its patient care, and has received a below-average rating from Medicare. Missouri Protection & Advocacy Services is investigating the incident.

The man, 37, has epilepsy and is developmentally disabled. His mother is deceased and his father is in prison in Tennessee. According to the man’s sister, their father made him a ward of the state without the input of anyone else in the family. That means that the public administrator has the power to make medical decisions for him.

When he was admitted to St. Mary’s Health Center on April 10, the man was dehydrated, malnourished and in respiratory and renal failure, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Doctors put him on a ventilator, but the county administrator said the man was not to be resuscitated or intubated in the event of a medical emergency and ordered the ventilator turned off. However, relatives of the man convinced a doctor to continue treatment. As of April 14, his condition had improved from critical to serious.

The sister said she had not visited her brother in two years before this week due to a family rift. She was shocked by how much weight he had lost, nearly 100 pounds by her estimate, and said one of his big toes was black with what appeared to be an untreated infection.

Normandy’s chief administrator denied that the man was neglected at her facility. She said that he had been ill for some time, but that the family did not know about his health problems because they never visited. She said the guardian came to visit him regularly and was “very involved” in his care.

But the sister said that nursing home staff has told her that the administrator does not visit the patient. She said that relatives did visit often and had expressed concern about his care.

Normandy was investigated twice in 2009 when a pair of residents died of suspicious opiate overdoses, but no charges were brought in either case. Medicare gives the facility a rating of two out of five stars, which is a “below-average” rating.

Source: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “Normandy nursing home is target of inquiry,” Elizabethe Holland, April 15, 2011

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