A “very busy” nurse at a nursing home in New Hope mistakenly administered a dose of oxycodone that was 20 times too strong and caused the death of a short-term resident, according to a state investigation released Tuesday.
The resident was found on the floor at North Ridge Health and Rehabilitation and was dead by the time paramedics arrived the morning of April 2, 2017, according to results of the state Health Department’s investigation.
Investigators faulted the facility, finding that North Ridge had no system to detect changes in how powerful painkillers and other high-risk medications are administered. The nurse also was blamed for giving the resident the wrong dosage.
The Health Department fined North Ridge an undisclosed amount, and the home made the required corrections in its medications procedures.
The Hennepin County medical examiner’s office identified the resident as Gary A. Schmidt, 53, of Plymouth.
“The whole situation is very less than satisfying,” said his daughter, Liz Schmidt, on Wednesday. “My dad should have walked out of that facility.”
The family’s attorney, Joel Smith, said Wednesday that the nurse “administered 30 milliliters instead of 30 milligrams. ... In other words, the nurse administered at least 20 times too much of the narcotic.”
Liz Schmidt said a nursing home employee called and told her of her father’s death that morning, but no one associated with North Ridge has contacted her since. “They won’t even talk to us, never received another call or a call back,” she said.
Smith said they’re “trying to resolve some issues” with the facility and its insurers. “But they’re dragging their feet on that.”
The attorney said a lawsuit is possible “soon” against the home or its for-profit parent, Florida-based Mission Health.
North Ridge Administrator Diane Willette called Schmidt’s death “a tragic accident, and we dealt with it swiftly,” and cooperated with authorities.
Willette added that she is “confident that we have systems in place to help prevent something like this from ever occurring again.”
The administrator declined to say whether the nurse still works at North Ridge or faced any discipline for her role in Schmidt’s overdose.
Schmidt was in North Ridge for short-term rehabilitation while receiving chemotherapy and radiation for cancer and treatment for chronic pain and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the state report read.
In an interview with a state investigator five days after the overdose, the nurse said “she did not verify the concentration and dose of the oxycodone administered because she was very busy with multiple patients.”
Schmidt received the deadly dose about 2 a.m. after reporting pain at 10 on a scale of zero to 10, the report read. About 4 a.m. the nurse looked in on him, and he appeared to be sleeping.
A different nurse discovered Schmidt on the floor shortly before 7:30 a.m. Resuscitation efforts failed.