Alvador Thompson, a nurses aide who poured scalding oatmeal into the mouth of a disabled patient has pleaded guilty in response to the involuntary manslaughter charges filed against her by the Montgomery County District Attorney.
This incident at an assisted living facility caught national attention not only due to the fact that an aide failed to check the temperature of the food she was serving to a disabled resident, but also due to the fact that despite the severe burns on the man’s lips, tongue, mouth and throat, the facility waited almost half a day to get medical attention for the injured man. Also, Cambridge Brightfield, the Pennsylvania assisted living facility, failed to notify state officials of the resident’s injury.
The elderly man received hospital treatment for his injuries, but was discharged back to Cambridge Brightfield where he died two weeks later.
In several months, Ms. Thompson will return to court for her sentencing. Pennsylvania categorizes involuntary manslaughter as a misdemeanor which carries a maximum penalty of 2 1/2 to 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fines.
Cambridge Brightfield’s provisional license was revoked by the Department of Public Welfare after authorities learned of this burn injury and two other incidents where residents were found unresponsive and required hospitalization.
As far as I can tell, no fine or corrective changes were ordered by Pennsylvania officials. The fact that no severe penalties were ordered leaves me wondering, what real incentive is there for assisted living facilities to clean up their act? It is always easy to blame the individual involved in a particular incident, yet the reality is that the management and owners of this assisted living facility are the ones to blame as they typically fail to train many staff members to look out for situations such as this. As long as our society gives a mere ‘slap on the wrist’ to facilities that allow this type of treatment to exist we can expect more unfortunate situations such as this to continue.
For laws related to Pennsylvania nursing homes, look here.
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