A Northern California nursing home is claiming that the local hospital, Mercy Medical Center, killed one of its residents. According to news accounts, 74-year-old Robert Nelson, a developmentally disabled adult residing in skilled nursing facility Shasta House, was taken to Mercy in December for “digestive problems.” Nelson used a feeding tube for nourishment, and could not take any food by mouth. The nursing home said that the hospital was informed of this.
Visitors to Nelson at the hospital, however, said they caught hospital staff trying to feed Nelson by mouth on several occasions, including attempts to administer pills by mouth. The attempts continued, allegedly, even after warnings were given to hospital staff.
Not long after his admission for the digestive problems, Nelson came down with aspiration pneumonia, an inflammation of the lungs and airways, usually caused by the breathing of foreign material such as food. People with swallowing difficulties are at risk of acquiring aspiration pneumonia, but Nelson should not have been as his condition required no food by mouth.