Los Angeles County Nursing Home Fined For Feeding Tube Death

A California nursing home in Los Angeles County was fined $75,000 after state investigators concluded that a patient’s feeding tube had been inserted incorrectly. The 78-year-old patient, who suffered from Alzheimer’s and was also recovering from a stroke, died six days later.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the patient, who was admitted into the Whittier facility in 2008, complained of abdominal pain and of having trouble breathing after the tube was inserted. Shortly after the man arrived at the emergency room, doctors discovered that the man’s stomach was inflamed. The man underwent an operation and was put on a ventilator, but could not be saved.

Feeding tubes are usually categorized by their intended use and the site of insertion. One of the most common types is the gastric feeding tube (also know as a gastrostomy tube or g-tube), which delivers food and medication into a patient’s stomach. Feeding tubes are frequently used when a patient cannot eat or drink because he or she cannot swallow. Though usually rare, a variety of complications can occur, including a loosening of the tube, leaking at the insertion site, which can lead to infection, and irritation at the insertion site. Improper insertion of a feeding tube can lead to serious complications, however, and even death.

All California nursing home facilities are required to comply with applicable state and federal laws and regulations governing health care facilities. According to health care standards, nursing home workers must check for proper placement before using a feeding tube for any reason. Proper monitoring by nursing home staff after the tube is inserted also greatly reduces the chance of complications. Failure to comply with those standards can lead to legal liability for negligent nursing homes and their staff.

In the Whittier nursing home case, the feeding tube misplacement caused inflammation, respiratory failure, and septic shock because it was mistakenly inserted into the patient’s peritoneal cavity, a fluid-filled gap between the wall of the abdomen and the organs contained within the abdomen, instead of directly into his stomach.

After the man’s death, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) launched an investigation. CDPH ultimately concluded that the nursing home had improperly inserted the 78-year-old’s feeding tube.

Our firm, which handles elder abuse and neglect cases, knows that negligent facilities deserve to be exposed. As a result of CDPH’s negative findings, the nursing home will have to pay a hefty fine of $75,000. In addition, the facility received a “AA” citation, the most severe category under California law. The Whittier facility, which plans to appeal CDPH’s decision, has been cited by the state a staggering 63 times in the last five years. They currently also have a low rating in the federal Nursing Home Compare rating system: 2 out of 5 stars.

If you have questions or concerns about the care your relatives or friends are receiving from their caretakers or in a nursing home or assisted living facility, our San Diego nursing home attorney can help you find out the answers to your questions.

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