Woman in nursing home (symbol image)
Photo: Oliver Berg / DPA
Dramatic misjudgment in a retirement home in the US state of Iowa: As the New York Times reports, a 66-year-old was pronounced dead by employees of the Glen Oaks Alzheimer's Special Care Center in early January.
The woman was taken to a funeral home.
But when staff there opened the body bag, they saw a woman still alive, gasping for breath.
The undertakers alerted an ambulance - the woman was taken to an emergency room with hypothermia and breathing shallowly.
Because she had stated in a living will that she did not want resuscitation, the 66-year-old died two days later in the nursing home.
That's according to a report from the Iowa Health Inspection Authority.
The woman was admitted to the retirement home in December 2021.
She suffered from early-stage dementia, anxiety and depression.
lorazepam and morphine
At the end of December 2022, she was transferred to the hospice with advanced symptoms.
At this point, she was being medicated with anxiolytics, morphine, and painkillers.
According to the report, her condition had deteriorated in January.
She was no longer responsive and her vital functions became weaker.
The patient therefore refused to eat and had cramps.
A doctor prescribed a higher dose of lorazepam and morphine in view of the acute deterioration.
On January 3, at the end of his 12-hour shift, a nurse found the woman with no signs of life and consulted a nurse.
"The resident's mouth was open, her eyes were fixed, no breathing sounds could be heard," the broadcaster CNN quoted from the report.
The nurse could no longer feel a pulse.
She then declared the patient dead and informed the relatives.
A doctor then gave the go-ahead for transport to the funeral home.
Disgraceful treatment of patient
The facility now has to pay a $10,000 fine for failing to respect the residents' dignity.
It is still unclear whether the nurse should be held responsible.
The manager of the facility, Lisa Eastman, told the TV station KCCI that the residents are taken care of with self-sacrifice.
»All employees undergo regular training so that they can provide the best possible support to our residents at the end of their lives and in death.«
The Glen Oaks Alzheimer's Special Care Center operates a 66-bed facility and is part of Dallas-based Frontier Management, one of the largest nursing home operators in the United States.
According to the health department, the center has been fined more than a dozen times since it opened in 2001 - among other things, because of the lack of training for nurses and insufficient infection prevention during the corona pandemic.
For example, Covid-19 positives were not separated from healthy residents.
In the United States, such misdiagnoses are not uncommon, writes the New York Times.
And lists two comparable cases in the past two years.