Untrained Staffing Results in Resident Suffocating

The Estates at GreenlyThe ABC5 Eye Witness News reports that the Minnesota Department of Public Health has found The Estates at Greenly at fault for the suffocation death of one of its residents.

The article states that:

A nursing staff member at a Stillwater nursing and assisted living facility is alleged to have blocked a resident’s lungs with a speaking valve, which prevented air intake and eventually led to the resident’s death, according to a state investigation.

The poorly trained staff committed a deadly mistake on this resident. Because of their negligence, the victim suffocated and died. In this case, the state found that the nursing home failed to adequately train their staff. This incident could have been prevented had they provided their staff with proper training. The article reports that:

The Minnesota Department of Health found the facility, The Estates at Greeley, negligent in the resident’s death in part because it did not provide training for staff in the use of the speaking valve in conjunction with a tracheostomy, or a tube in a windpipe to assist in breathing.

Choking and suffocating are unfortunately common causes of deaths in nursing homes. Typically though, they are the result of the nursing home not following dietary restrictions. Regardless, this was a preventable suffocation death.

According to the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services, it is the responsibility of the care facility to provide staff that is trained to care for the residents. Often times, undertrained staff or understaffing at a facility are root causes for choking and suffocation deaths.

Understaffing of nursing home personnel has been described as a patient safety crisis. Nursing home understaffing is when there are not enough nursing home staff to meet the specific needs of all the residents.

Because understaffing of nursing homes is such a critical issues for patients and families, we have devoted an entire section of our website to educating the public about the evils of understaffing here.

On the other hand, staff that is poorly trained presents another problem for residents. It leaves them in the care of people who cannot safely care for them.

the nursing staff member performed tracheostomy care on the resident and left the room, according to the report. That care was supposed to include deflating a cuff around the tracheostomy tube and placing the speaking valve on the tube’s hub. The nurse later told an MDH investigator she had forgotten to deflate the cuff, the report shows.

Without sufficient training in these areas, nursing home patients will surely die, and any nursing home manager knows this.

The Estates at Greenly is managed by Monarch Healthcare Management, which manages health care facilities throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin. Often times, nursing homes are owned or managed by larger companies. They make corporate decisions that can often be dangerous to residents in order to make money. Decisions such as hiring a nurse who was untrained.

According to the article, other staff recollected hearing that the nurse voiced that she was untrained. It states that:

Three staff members told an MDH investigator they heard the nurse say she forgot to remove the speaking valve from the resident, according to the report. At least one other nurse interviewed by an investigator confirmed the facility had not trained staff on use of the speaking valve.If maltreatment is substantiated against the nurse, the investigative report would be sent to the nurse aide registry for possible inclusion on a state abuse registry and/or the Department of Human Services for possible disqualification, the report says. The facility was issued a corrective order, and would face a fine or fines if violations are not corrected.

Often times nursing homes are issues corrective orders which are often times monitored by state agencies that are underfunded and understaffed. This makes monitoring extremely difficult. Other times fines are issued, which become non-issues for large corporations.

If you have a loved one who has suffocated or choked to death at a nursing home, please contact me here to begin an investigation. I will help you determine whether or not their death could have been prevented. I want to help you make sense of a complicated process.

You can read the full article referenced above here.

Do you have questions about a possible abuse, neglect, stroke, or heart attack case? Contact us now using this confidential form. Or leave a comment below--but remember the comments are public, not confidential.

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