Some of the most vulnerable patients in the nursing home community remain physically disabled patients with feeding tubes. Reliant on staff for their nutritional needs, specific protocols must be followed: before, during and after feedings in order to achieve their highest level of functioning.
I was reminded about the heightened vulnerability of feeding tube patients when I heard about how an investigation into the care of patients at a Connecticut Nursing Home revealed that staff were providing incompetent care to two patients at their facility.
The state’s investigation confirmed that staff at the facility allowed one patient suffer extreme weight loss and another feeing tube patient to suffer noticeable dehydration during an admission to a New Haven, CT facility, now known as Paradigm Healthcare.
With respect the malnourished feeding tube patient, a review of the patient’s chart suggested that the patient lost an alarming 20 pounds during a 30-day period.
Equally alarming was the similar mistreatment of patient with a gastric feeding tube who required a hospitalization due to dehydration. A state report into the patient’s nursing home care determined that the nursing home staff failed to take any corrective measures when the feeding tube remained visibly clogged over an extended period — with multiple shift changes.
While fines were dispensed for these incidents of troubling care, I find multiple episodes of similarly poor care— at the same facility– to be appalling. Given the fact that the harm to these nursing home patients occurred over an extended period— where many different staff members were likely caring for these patients— there clearly is a systemic problem when it comes to properly caring for feeding tube patients.
As a nursing home lawyer, who has litigated feeding tube complication cases I find that many staff members fail to appreciate the potential complications related to tube feeding patients. Similarly, I see troubling occurrences where staff are in such a rush to work their way though the roster of feeding tube patients that they fail to take basic safeguards such as flushing out the feeding tube or keeping the patient elevated during feedings— which can contribute to serious complications such as:
As a result of the medical families’ staff responsibility to properly care for patients with feeding tubes— and ensure that the devices are safely maintained, any situation involving a feeding tube complication deserves to be analyzed from a liability standpoint to determine if legal action is necessary.
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