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Edwardsville nursing home goes on trial

An Edwardsville nursing home faces a lawsuit from the relative of a facility resident who died in the home's care in 2006. The suit alleges violations of the state's Nursing Home Care Act and that nursing home neglect was the true cause of the elderly's woman's death. A similar suit a year earlier had been dismissed when a judge declared a mistrial.

According to documents filed by the plaintiff, who is the aunt of the 66-year-old woman who died, the woman was originally admitted to the nursing home for care and rehabilitation following a short stay in a hospital's emergency room for treatment of pain caused by a series of vertebral fractures. Two skin patches containing the pain-relieving drug fentanyl had been applied at the emergency room. Her family members believe that she died as a result of a drug overdose from the patch.

A defense attorney; however, says the woman's death certificate listed aspirational pneumonia due to vertebral compression fractures as the real cause of death. The pneumonia was a result of 40 years of smoking.

Nursing home neglect cases often go unreported because elders are less likely to complain. Many of these unreported cases become known only when a patient dies.

Despite the good intentions of a facility and its staff, improper care can lead to a tragic death that implicates everyone involved. Nursing and caregiving facilities should always check twice before administering any form of treatment to a patient to avoid injuries, abuse and untimely death.

Relatives of neglect victims should immediately report suspicions of nursing home abuse, malnutrition and dehydration to the proper authorities. Victims should speak to a knowledgeable legal professional before potential neglect leads to a resident's death. Damages to compensate for both financial and emotional injuries may be awarded to victims or their surviving relatives.

Source: Edwardsville Intelligencer, "Wrongful death trial underway in court," Mar. 6, 2013

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