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How often does this happen in nursing homes?

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azirtista

New member
New Jersey

My mother was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's at the age of 58. My father was already passed away so myself and my 2 sisters cared for her as long as we could (4 years). In that time she forgot who we were, who she was, and became violent if she did not get her way. We managed though with the help of an adult daycare and an aid for 2 hours a day 4 days a week. As it progressed and she became more unpredictable and violent we had decided we could not handle her on our own anymore and it would be safer for us to place her in a home...or so we thought.

We did our research and found a home that had a lot of long term staff and we liked the place and moved mom in. We would visit twice a week, and just 2 months in we got the call that she was being transferred to a hospital because she had a fever that would not lower. A few days go by and she gets sepsis. Sepsis then turns to her lungs being filled and having pneumonia. Now at this point this is our mother who does not know how to dress herself, eat on her own or practice regular hygiene alone. We were told by the hospital she had a 20% chance of recovery and that if we were to try to save her we would have to do invasive surgeries. As a family we agreed it would be more humane instead of doing all this just to have her back to square 1 of not knowing what is going on. To transfer her to hospice and make her as comfortable as possible.
The cause of all this ended up being an untreated UTI...a uti. We took care of her for 4 years and never came close to a uti, and yet a trained medical staff in 2 months transferred her to her death bed. I'm just curious how often does something like this happen, and is there any neglect on there part for not identifying the uti before it got to sepsis? Is there a case against the home or since we opted for the hospice ultimately they would just argue she could have recovered?
 


quincy

Senior Member
New Jersey

My mother was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's at the age of 58. My father was already passed away so myself and my 2 sisters cared for her as long as we could (4 years). In that time she forgot who we were, who she was, and became violent if she did not get her way. We managed though with the help of an adult daycare and an aid for 2 hours a day 4 days a week. As it progressed and she became more unpredictable and violent we had decided we could not handle her on our own anymore and it would be safer for us to place her in a home...or so we thought.

We did our research and found a home that had a lot of long term staff and we liked the place and moved mom in. We would visit twice a week, and just 2 months in we got the call that she was being transferred to a hospital because she had a fever that would not lower. A few days go by and she gets sepsis. Sepsis then turns to her lungs being filled and having pneumonia. Now at this point this is our mother who does not know how to dress herself, eat on her own or practice regular hygiene alone. We were told by the hospital she had a 20% chance of recovery and that if we were to try to save her we would have to do invasive surgeries. As a family we agreed it would be more humane instead of doing all this just to have her back to square 1 of not knowing what is going on. To transfer her to hospice and make her as comfortable as possible.
The cause of all this ended up being an untreated UTI...a uti. We took care of her for 4 years and never came close to a uti, and yet a trained medical staff in 2 months transferred her to her death bed. I'm just curious how often does something like this happen, and is there any neglect on there part for not identifying the uti before it got to sepsis? Is there a case against the home or since we opted for the hospice ultimately they would just argue she could have recovered?
It happens more often than most people want to believe.

You could take her medical records to a personal injury attorney in your area for a personal review. Initial appointments are (generally) free. The attorney should be able to tell you if there is a case worth pursuing.

How long ago did your mother die? I am really sorry for your loss.
 
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quincy

Senior Member
Following are three links to information that might be helpful, not only to better determine if the nursing home was negligent but also to find resources available if complaints are to be made.

Nursing Home Reform Act, 42 USC s.1396:
https://law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/42/1396r

New Jersey’s Nursing Home Resident Rights:
https://nj.gov/health/healthfacilities/documents/ltc/patients_rights.pdf

New Jersey Nursing Home comparisons (click on “list view”):
https://www.medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare/results.html#state=NJ&lat=0&Ing=0

The Medicare site linked to above also has statistical information on abuse and neglect cases.
 
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azirtista

New member
It happens more often than most people want to believe.

You could take her medical records to a personal injury attorney in your area for a personal review. Initial appointments are (generally) free. The attorney should be able to tell you if there is a case worth pursuing.

How long ago did your mother die? I am really sorry for your loss.
1 Month ago. Thank you for the kind words.

How did you establish this?
She was tested when initially brought to the hospital for the fever and was confirmed she had an untreated uti.
 

quincy

Senior Member
1 Month ago. Thank you for the kind words.


She was tested when initially brought to the hospital for the fever and was confirmed she had an untreated uti.
I think what you describe is worth exploring with a lawyer in your area, especially since the consultation should be free.
 

HighwayMan

Super Secret Senior Member
Very often a UTI is diagnosed based upon self-reported symptoms. It sounds like your mother was in no condition to know what was happening to her or to complain about symptoms,

When my mother suffered from that terrible disease she was not able to answer any questions about symptoms of physical problems put to her by nurses and doctors or when asked if such-and-such bothered her she would always say no.

Certainly it's worth a consultation with an attorney, but don't expect hearing the news that you want to hear.
 

quincy

Senior Member
Alzheimer’s is such a devastating condition that I agree it is possible that the fever was the first indication the nursing home staff had of any problem - and then nursing home made the proper decision to send the mother to the hospital for examination and treatment.

That said, nursing homes vary so greatly in their care of patients that I think it can be worthwhile to look closely at any incident that seems outside the norm.
 

commentator

Senior Member
When dealing over the long haul with my mother in law who had dementia, we eventually learned at ask the facility to check to see when she would have a bad spell if she had a u.t.i. On many occasions, that was what was going on. Sadly, people with dementia don't notice, certainly don't complain about urinary tract infections until it is noticed when she's feverish and already very ill. Really, it wasn't negligence on the part of the caregivers so much as that we had a person who was losing her ability to self monitor, and who had frequent bladder infections, as she had been doing for a long time. Eventually complication of a kidney infection took her life. But it wasnt, as I suspect in your mom's case a one time thing that a quick diagnosis and a one time treatment with appropriate antibiotics would have fixed permanently.
 

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