State investigators cleared a nursing home in Sanford, Maine of specific allegations of neglect following a report that sparked intense media scrutiny. The investigation began, as did the media reports, after staffers found fly larvae on an elderly resident. The nursing home in question had a history of problems with state regulators, and the incident illustrates the importance of maintaining vigilance regarding care for elderly patients.
During a routine skin check on Sunday, August 5, 2012, nursing home staffers found fly larvae, more commonly known as maggots, on an elderly resident. A skin check roughly twelve hours earlier, according to the nursing home’s administration, had not found any problems, so they stated that the larvae were in their earliest stage of development. Housefly eggs, once laid, typically hatch within twenty-four hours and begin a life cycle similar to most insects. After about five days, maggots develop into pupae and emerge as adult flies. The larvae were apparently only present on the resident’s skin, not elsewhere in the room.
Nursing home staff reportedly contacted the patient’s doctor immediately upon the discovery of the fly larvae. They also checked the other residents in the seventy-four bed facility, inspected the premises, and reported the incident to state health officials.
The nursing home, according to the Bangor Daily News, has a history of deficiencies identified in prior government inspections. The facility also reportedly has a one-star rating on the Medicare.gov website, which shows how nursing homes compare to one another based on inspection results. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency that administers both programs, conducted an annual inspection of the facility in September 2011 and identified fourteen specific problems. None of the problems identified at the time related to insect larvae. Inspectors reportedly found dirt and food refuse in several common areas and on patients’ bedside tables, cluttered equipment, and loose electrical wires in two rooms. The nurse-to-resident ratio at specified times also did not meet the regulatory minimum. Maine strictly enforces federal nursing home regulations, according to the Daily News, so very few facilities make it through an inspection with no deficiencies. On average, inspections find 4.8 deficiencies in Maine nursing homes. The national average is 7.4 deficiencies.
The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) inspected the facility last week in response to the fly larvae report. It concluded that the nursing home staff had the proper training for this sort of situation and responded appropriately, and it found that the facility met overall standards for cleanliness. The facility stated that it had also resolved the matter with CMS. The situation could have been much worse for the resident.
Nursing home administrators and staffers owe a duty of care to residents to provide a high degree of care, particularly to residents who require assistance for many of their daily tasks. A lack of cleanliness can potentially lead to significant health problems for residents, and nursing homes may be liable for damages that result from lapses in cleanliness and care. At Briggs & Wholey, we represent the rights of people in Maine who have suffered injury or lost loved ones due to nursing home neglect or abuse. To schedule a free and confidential consultation to discuss your case, contact us today online or at (888) 596-1099.
More Blog Posts:
Wrongful Death: Misplaced Feeding Tubes Kill Maine Patients, Maine Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, April 5, 2009
Hiding Abuse of Maine Nursing Home Residents, Maine Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, February 26, 2009
Rating Maine Nursing Homes: Is Your Elderly Loved One Safe? Maine Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, January 29, 2009
Photo credit: ‘The House Fly!’ by Vinoth Chandar (Flickr: The House Fly!) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.