A nursing home in Riverside County was hit with a $100,000 fine after the state deemed the death of an 87-year-old woman, who died of acute peritonitis in June 2006, was due to neglect. The home was also issued a AA citation from the California Department of Public Health, the most severe citation that can be given to a nursing home.
According to reports, The Springs at the Carlotta, a 59-bed nursing home in Palm Desert, the elderly resident had suffered from constipation for 24 days. The nursing facility allegedly knew the woman was suffering from constipation when she entered the facility only weeks before her death, but failed to monitor her condition or her treatment. When she began to vomit on June 22nd, she was sent to the hospital where tests confirmed that her colon had perforated due to the constipation. She developed severe peritonitis and died a week later.
It took more than a year for the Department of Public Health to complete its investigation, and the facility has appealed the fine.
These types of deaths occurring all the time in nursing facilities, and are rarely reported. I can only assume that an attentive family member sought to investigate what had happened, because most of the time a death like this is dismissed as just an old person who reached the end of her life, not the result of neglect or negligence by the nursing home staff. Good for the people who looked into this case, and kudos for the state for issuing the citation, even if a year is an appallingly long time to complete an investigation, but that’s a topic for a different day.
Let’s hope this family gets some justice for what was likely a very painful and suffering death.