D.C.’s Public Hospital Fails to Report Critical Details on Patient’s Death

By Peter DePaolis

Nursing Home Negligence Attorneys Serving Clients in the D.C. Area

The D.C.’s only public hospital has failed to provide critical details about a patient that died in their nursing home this past August.

The report, which was created by the D.C. Department of Health, did not have information about the 47-year old man’s experience that would have triggered an investigation into the care facility at United Medical Center.

Report Missing Information on Patient’s Death in Washington, D.C.

The most significant omission in the report was that the patient, Warren Webb, died. Furthermore, the report did not state that the patient complained of a shortness of breath and cried out for help. It also neglected to include that the patient was on the floor for 20 minutes next to his nurses after he had rolled from his bed onto the floor.

These details were reported by witnesses and a time-stamped recording at the facility of the incident.

Instead, the report was simple and stated that the patient was sitting on the floor after he had slid from his bed. Also, the patient was encouraged to wait on the floor for staff before he had attempted to get out of bed himself. Medical officials in the facility determined that treatment was not necessary.

According to the witness statements, Webb’s diaper came loose as he rolled onto the floor. Nurses left him lying in his waste on the floor for at least 20 minutes. By this time, nurses could not find a pulse and began to resuscitate him. Afterward, Webb was transferred down to the emergency room and pronounced dead from a heart attack – which was approximately one hour after he initially cried out.

Because of this report, the DC Department of Health did not investigate Webb’s death. Instead, the agency began their investigation after receiving information released by The Washington Post.

The Lack of Care Continues

Sadly, when investigations got underway, more disturbing details about the facility’s standard of care were released. At the health committee hearing, employees stated that a full investigation in conjunction with their chief nursing officer was completed.

The chief nursing officer states in her report that one nurse was cited for her lack of care in Webb’s case. In fact, it states that a licensed practical nurse in charge of Webb did not respond to his cries for help for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Furthermore, the recording showed that the victim’s roommate told the same nurse that the victim needed a diaper change and that was when nurses arrived.

Webb’s roommate pleaded with nurses to help Webb, who was left on the floor. Had it not been for Webb’s roommate, many experts believe that the patient would have died there on the floor in his room in his waste.

Is Patient Safety at Risk for Remaining Patients of the Facility?

Patient safety is jeopardized anytime health care providers do not report patient conditions – especially the circumstances that led to a patient’s death. In this case, the local health department did not investigate because as far as they knew, the patient was cared for properly.

Current and future patients are at risk of harm when the government conceals these facts or does not reveal unsafe conditions.
After all, had the Post not disclosed the dangers of the facility and the real story behind this patient’s death, future patients would not have realized the potential conditions they would face if they chose this nursing home.

This case is a specific example of why proper reporting and disclosing of details to the public is critical for future patient safety.

Furthermore, existing patients’ families may wish to remove their loved ones from the UMC long-term care facility after hearing these troubling details. Without the dreadful circumstances being released to the public, a serious health and safety concern for family members and patients still in the UMC facility would have gone completely unaddressed.

Patients Should Thoroughly Research a Nursing Home Before Selecting

Anytime family is searching for a nursing home they should consider all options – and never select the first one they see.

The case of UMC’s long-term care facility also shows us that even if a nursing home is located within a hospital – that is no guarantee that patients are getting the proper level of care.

Nursing Home Compare, an online tool created by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, has more than 15,000 nursing homes rated and certified by the agency – all available for review.

This online tool includes the overall rating of the nursing home facility and rates them based on four criteria:

  1. The overall rating, which takes the tallies of three categories
  2. Health inspection ratings and performance
  3. Staffing reports – and how many staff members there are per patient
  4. Quality measures that the facility has in place to ensure patients receive proper treatment

In addition to the online tool, family members should review the state’s long-term care ombudsman – which is an advocate that helps individuals who are in nursing homes and assisted care facilities. These offices investigate reviews and complaints and would be a source for finding out how many complaints the nursing home has received from patients.

How the Recent Events Affect Searches

Sadly, the recent event at UMC brings to light that these databases may be missing critical information – which means that a facility could have a better rating than it deserves.
Patients researching UMC’s long-term care facility would not find any complaints about the recent event yet. However, after this investigation, their rating will most likely decrease.

Was Your Loved One Injured in a Nursing Home Accident?

Nursing homes are supposed to provide care to their patients so that they maintain a higher quality of life. They are there to serve as a fill-in for loved ones who cannot manage their family member’s needs on their own. Families put trust into these facilities, and many are let down when their loved one is seriously injured or dies.

If a nursing home’s negligence has injured your loved one, you need an advocate to fight for your right to compensation.

Contact an attorney from Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP today. We have three convenient office locations to serve you, or you can connect with a representative online.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.