MI Sues Nursing Home Over Resident's Death

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express (subscribe)

LANSING, MI--Michigan's attorney general has sued the owners of a Big Rapids nursing home, just 10 days after eight former employees were charged on 18 felony counts related to a resident's death.

Fifty-year-old Sarah Comer died January 16, 2005, one day after being admitted to Metron Nursing Facility for rehabilitation. Comer was "extremely oxygen-dependent", but was placed in a room with staff that had little experience dealing with oxygen tanks.

Attorney General Mike Cox said Comer was found dead in her room after her tank ran out of oxygen. Investigators allege that some of the staff and administration then tried to cover up some facts and withheld evidence surrounding her death.

Cox filed criminal charges last Monday against five registered nurses, the nursing home's medical director, the former administrator and a certified nursing assistant. The charges include involuntary manslaughter, accessory after the fact as a result of a cover-up, falsification of medical records, tampering with evidence along with five misdemeanor charges, including failure to report the incident to the Michigan Department of Community Health.

"This tragic death simply shouldn't have occurred," Cox said.

Last Friday, six of the eight former employees pleaded not guilty to the charges in Mecosta County District Court. Another waived her arraignment, while yet another was arrested in Florida and is expected to return to face the charges against her.

On Wednesday of this week, Cox filed a lawsuit against Metron Integrated Health Systems, as well as the nursing homes it owns and operates in Big Rapids, Allegan and Kalamazoo.

According to the Detroit News, Cox accused the company of operating "in a manner that could endanger their residents."

Inspectors cited the nursing home at Big Rapids for 12 deficiencies last year, while the facility at Allegan was cited 21 times, and the facility at Kalamazoo was cited 15 times.

The state average was seven times, which is close to the national average.

In the suit, Cox asked the court to order Metron to pay damages for Medicaid funds that paid for deficient care, and to bring the three facilities into compliance with state and federal laws.

"Attorney general charges eight people in Medicaid patient's death" (Associated Press)

"Six former nursing home workers enter pleas in resident's death" (Associated Press)

"Cox sues owner of nursing homes after death" (Detroit News)

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March 13, 2006 - InclusionDailyNews Department | Email this story


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