Allegations of Neglecting a Patient – Malnourishment
A Twin Cities home health care provider has been accused of neglecting a patient after that patient died of malnutrition.
The Minnesota Department of Health has conducted an investigation and they found that the patient was malnourished and the agency did not report the change in the patient’s condition, nor did they seek medical care for the patient.
The Minnesota Department of Health has further stated that the patient was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2012 and they were referred to the agency due to a “failure to thrive.” This means that the patient was not able to completely take care of some specific needs and needed a skilled nurse to visit them. The nurse was to help the patient manage their medication and they were to perform a home safety evaluation to ensure the home was safe for the patient. If at any point the home environment would be deemed unsafe, then it would be recommended that the patient receive around the clock care or be placed in a nursing home.
Substantiated Complaint – Found Neglecting Patient – Failure to Monitor
In the Department of Health’s investigation, they did find a report that said the patient was complaining of a poor appetite in 2014. The patient’s vital signs were recorded, but there was no weight listed.
It was found that no weight monitoring had occurred over a two year period. The patient, however, did have a 2013 physician visit where the doctor expressed concerns about the patient’s level of nutrition.
When the nurse was questioned, she said that the patient’s nutritional status was checked by evaluating the patient and also checking to see what food was in the home. She said the patient was never weighed because the patient didn’t have a scale.
Records show that the patient was admitted into the hospital in 2014 with profound malnutrition and multi-system atrophy. At admission, the patient only weighed 80 pounds and had a serious blood infection and a pressure ulcer.
The nurse said that a skin check had been performed two months before the hospital admission and that no open wounds were found. She also said that an offer was made to the patient to go to a nursing home at various points over the past two years, but that the patient desired to stay within the home.
The day after the hospital admission, the patient was placed in hospice and then died 13 days later.
The Minnesota Department of Health has listed the cause of death as multi-system atrophy and aspiration pneumonia.
If the agency is found to be responsible for the patient’s death, they could face heavy penalties by the Department of Health. The nurse could also be reprimanded as deemed appropriate by the state nursing board if it is found that she was negligent and that that negligence led to the death of the patient.