A Temporary Stay Becomes Fatal
In mid-March, Oneal entered a nursing and rehabilitation home for help recovering from his recently fractured shoulder. His stay was only meant to be temporary, but it became fatal due to his care in the hands of the home. For the family, the tragedy did not stop at the nursing home – it continued into the courtroom.
Because Oneal had had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), an extremely common lung disease that makes breathing difficult, he also needed to be on an oxygen machine to live. Despite this fact and his doctor’s orders, records and Oneal’s wife, Ruth, indicate that on several occasions and for long periods of time, Oneal was not given the oxygen he needed
At least once, Ruth came to visit Oneal and discovered that he wasn’t receiving oxygen. When she demanded that it be restored, Ruth reports that her requests were not immediately honored, because the available nursing home staff had not been taught how to administer oxygen. Ruth noted other times when Oneal was not administered the same life-providing oxygen due to damaged, non-functioning equipment. Despite her repeated pleas, the oxygen Oneal relied upon to live was slowly restored each time.
Sixteen days into his stay, Oneal’s nurse noted that his oxygen equipment was again not working. The next day, a nurse’s assistant found that Oneal was having severe trouble breathing. Both Ruth and an ambulance were called and Oneal was rushed to the hospital, but it was too late
While waiting for paramedics, Ruth was not allowed in the room to comfort her husband at what would prove to be the end of his life.
Her struggle to hold the nursing home accountable for its negligence continues. If nursing homes aren’t accountable, are our loved ones safe?