Fatal Morphine Dose at Sacramento Nursing Home

According to a recent article in the Courthouse News Service, a California senior’s family filed an elder abuse lawsuit against “the nation’s largest nursing home chain” after the patient was accidentally given a fatal dose of morphine. The victim, Jonathan Bell, had been a dialysis patient at American River Center in Sacramento when his nurse mistakenly administered the morphine. Bell’s family has alleged that the nursing home “refused to let an ambulance take the catatonic man to a hospital” after the medical mistake occurred. Bell died the following day.1921401904_b3e2bdfd81

Nursing Home Concerned About Sanctions

Why wouldn’t staff members at American River Center allow an ambulance to take Bell to the hospital for care? His daughters argue that “the nursing home feared sanctions for giving him the wrong treatment and tried to cover up its mistake by letting Bell remain in a catatonic state for more than 24 hours without medical attention.” Indeed, according to the family’s lawyer, “they tried to bury their mistake and buried his life.”

Based on the complaint, Bell realized he had taken a narcotic and told the nursing staff. However, he soon “became non-responsive and catatonic,” and the nursing staff allegedly left him to “sleep off the morphine.” Bell’s roommate also alerted the nursing staff to Bell’s condition. It was only 24 hours after Bell received the lethal dose of morphine—and two hours after the facility refused to have the victim transported in an ambulance—that the nursing home called an ambulance to take him to a hospital. But, according to the complaint, “Bell quickly died in the hospital.”

Suspicion of Nursing Home Negligence

Like numerous medication errors, Bell’s dose of morphine proved to be fatal. And the complaint argues that the nursing home didn’t seek treatment for the patient because it was concerned about a medication error citation.

Bell had been admitted almost two years prior to the incident after he suffered a stroke. During the time of his residence at the facility, the victim’s daughter were concerned that he suffered other injuries as a result of nursing home negligence. For example, Bell’s daughters reported that he lost about 30 pounds during his stay at American River Center, and that “he fell nine times while under the supervision of American River Center’s staff.” Advocates for Bell have indicated that the facility was severely understaffed, as “the nurse assigned to him was working a double shift and ignored him altogether.”

This isn’t the first time that American River Center, owned by Genesis HealthCare, has been listed for having nursing home abuse issues. To be sure, another of Genesis’s facilities in Sacramento is “one of six nursing facilities in California listed on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ list of centers with serious quality issues.” And Bell’s family alleges that American River Center, too, has “a record of substantiated complaints against it.”

The recent incident in Sacramento is only one example of nursing home abuse in California. If you have concerns about an elderly loved one’s safety in a nursing home or assisted-living facility, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced San Diego nursing home abuse lawyer.

Photo Credit: timsamoff via Compfight cc

See Related Blog Posts:

Nursing Homes in Santa Cruz County Agree to Settlement

Debate Over Psych Meds in Nursing Homes