Sibley County nurse cited in death of nursing home resident

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 21, 2012 - 8:48 PM

A Sibley County nurse left the man unattended in his bathroom. He died soon after falling as he returned to bed.

State regulators are faulting a nurse at a Sibley County nursing home in the case of a resident who was left unattended in his bathroom, then fell and broke his hip while trying to return to bed and died soon after.

In an investigative report released Tuesday, state officials said the nurse at Good Samaritan Society Arlington assisted the resident to the bathroom about 6:45 p.m. on Oct. 25, 2011, but then gave him a call light and left him unattended while she went to assist another employee. Another staff member saw the resident fall as he was heading back to bed, the report said.

The report noted that the man had a history of falling and often used a wheelchair.

While the resident's death was officially attributed to pneumonia, elderly patients often enter a spiral of decline after they suffer a disabling fall.

A 2009 Star Tribune investigation found more than 1,100 deaths at Minnesota nursing homes linked to falls since 2002.

The Good Samaritan nurse told investigators she didn't know that the resident's care plan required staff to remain in his room when he used the bathroom. She said she left the room to answer a question from a new employee and gave the resident a call light to request help when he wanted to return to bed.

The nurse was disciplined by the home, according to the investigators' report. The identities of the resident and the nurse were not disclosed.

An executive with Good Samaritan, a nonprofit based in Sioux Falls, said the organization was still reviewing the report. Good Samaritan has about 35 nursing homes, 25 assisted-living facilities and seven home health agencies in Minnesota, with more housing in 23 other states.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

 
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