Minneapolis nursing home blamed in resident's death

  • Star Tribune s taff w riters
  • March 2, 2010 - 9:16 PM

A Minneapolis nursing home has been found negligent for allowing a resident with dementia to sustain severe burns on his legs and feet from a radiator next to his bed.

The resident at Redeemer Health and Rehab on Lake Street suffered second- and third-degree burns. He was taken to a hospital emergency room and died about four weeks later, the state Health Department said Tuesday.

State investigators ruled that Redeemer was negligent in the Jan. 2 incident because the resident was known to wedge his feet between the bed and heater and because the radiator cover was known to come loose.

One of the resident's feet "appeared to be burned down to the bone" by an uncovered heater that was directly below the bed, according to the employee who found the patient, the report said.

Officials with Redeemer were not immediately available to respond late Tuesday.

This was the second time in 12 months that a nursing home resident in Minnesota was badly burned by a heating element.

In January, a Benson, Minn., nursing home was cited for neglect for an incident 12 months earlier in which a resident with Alzheimer's disease was found sprawled over a radiator next to her bed. The Health Department's report in that case said the resident of Golden Living Center-Meadow Lane sustained first- and second-degree burns on her left arm, hand and leg. The resident died nine days later, but not from her burns, according to the report.

An inspection of the home two weeks after the incident found 10 beds within 20 inches of radiators. At least six residents using those beds were considered at risk for falls and potential burns. Radiator surface temperatures ranged from 82 to 119 degrees.

The nursing home moved the beds and may appeal the finding.

In the Minneapolis case, Redeemer responded on the day after the overnight incident by tightening several loose radiator covers and moving beds away from the heaters.

But before the incident, the Health Department wrote in its conclusion, "The facility did not take measures to ensure safety."

The resident, who suffered from a traumatic brain injury and had dementia, had put his feet in the same spot on other occasions, according to the employee who found him that night, but the heater covers had then been in place.

Another employee told investigators the heater cover would come off regularly and maintenance staff would be called to fix it.

While the state report noted the resident's death on Jan. 29, it did not explicitly say the burns were the cause. The report did not include his name.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482 Jane Friedmann • 612-673-7852

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