Even after tending to bleeding on the jaw of a resident at their facility following an altercation with another resident, staff at Sky West Assisted Living Center failed to seek out any outside medical attention for the resident. It wasn’t until the resident’s family insisted that the resident be taken to a hospital was it discovered that the man’s jaw was fractured in five places, his eye socket was broken and he had fractures in his cheek bone. Shortly after medical attention was obtained, the injuries claimed the life of the man.
While a grand jury investigation has cleared the other patient involved in the altercation of any wrong doing, attention is now being focused on the assisted living facilities actions— or perhaps more accurately—inactions in the days following the melee at their institution. In addition to failing to provide medical care, an investigation into the skirmish revealed the following concerning facts:
- The patient’s wife was told by staff that her husband’s injuries amounted to no more than a ‘cut on the lip”
- There is no evidence to substantiate that the owner of the facility was timely notified following this incident
- Evidence suggests that the facility attempted to conceal the extent of the patients injuries by sedating him and positioning him in his bed in a manner to make his injuries appear less severe than they actually are
Officials from the Texas Department of Aging and Disability have already cited Sky West for their inattention to the patient’s injuries and failing to summon the care of a doctor, but now state prosecutors are analyzing the circumstances to determine if the ALF’s actions have criminal consequences.
While we can debate the reasonableness of the grand jury’s decision not to pursue charges against the individual involved in the altercation, I certainly hope that the individual employees involved in this incident get prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. As caregivers to a particularly vulnerable group of people, staff at Sky West— and all facilities caring for the elderly, have a responsibility to both accurately inform patient’s families regarding the extent of injuries and to obtain medical treatment in a timely manner.
Neglect alleged at assisted living facility, Amarillo.com November 16, 2011