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Recent nursing home deaths raising concerns amongst families

Nursing home patients in Chicago may be old, frail and nearing their final days, but this does not mean that their medical needs should go unaddressed or neglected.

Why, then, have two patients recently died from not being administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation when they were found unresponsive by nursing home workers? Were both patients victims of nursing home neglect? Or were workers simply following nursing home policies and procedures?

In some cases, nursing home residents may elect to not be resuscitated when they become unresponsive. However, the two patients who recently died had never elected to not be resuscitated. Both deaths occurred at two different nursing homes in Minnesota, and both deaths were also reported within the last month. Families are now concerned about the safety of their loved ones, but officials claim that these types of incidents are actually very uncommon in nursing homes.

According to reports, the nursing homes where both patients had died are not being held responsible for the deaths. Both nursing homes had proper procedures in place detailing when patients should receive CPR. Additionally, the director of the state Health Department has stated that there is no evidence to suggest that either patient would have survived had they been given CPR. But even when it is assumed that an unresponsive patient will not respond to CPR efforts, shouldn’t nursing home workers still make an attempt to save the patient?

Although both nursing homes did have adequate policies in place, the workers may not have followed these procedures as they should have. At both facilities, workers are required to administer CPR unless a patient has elected to not be resuscitated. By failing to give the unresponsive patients CPR, the victims’ families may argue that the workers neglected the needs of their loved ones and violated their facilities’ procedures. The patients may not have responded to CPR efforts or other medical treatment, but they certainly did not deserve to be neglected.

Source: Star Tribune, “Minneapolis nursing-home death is second case of neglect,” Brad Schrade and Paul Walsh, Feb. 21, 2013


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