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Infestation of Maggots Found in Michigan Nursing Home Residents Tracheas and Catheters

Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service (MPAS) has found that many nursing home residents have experienced severe neglect and abuse – sometimes resulting in death.

This was discovered after reviewing nursing home surveys that had been collected by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) – the very state department responsible for licensing and oversight of nursing homes in Michigan.

“The LARA nursing home surveys document abuse and neglect in nursing homes that is absolutely unacceptable,” stated Elmer L. Cerano, executive director of MPAS, the nonprofit disability advocacy agency.

From the surveys, MPAS learned that a woman from a nursing home in Washtenaw County had been complaining of itching and burning around her catheter. She was not ambulatory and could not attend to her own personal hygiene without help. She had refused showers due to complaints of pain in her hip area although she consented to bed baths which, according to the survey, were not routinely provided.

During one instance of personal care being provided, staff noticed something of concern and brought it to the attention of a nurse. Upon closer examination of the vaginal area, maggots were found to be infesting in and around the catheter area. The resident was not given a shower until several hours later. The survey also indicates that a registered nurse manager was instructed by clinical corporate staff to document the discovery as debridement (dead tissue) rather than maggots. The resident was later treated at a local hospital and also found to have a hip fracture that was causing her severe pain.

Similar surveys from a nursing home in Oakland County indicate that a resident who used a trachea had been coughing more than usual, but she was not immediately assessed because staff was busy. The resident’s condition became so severe that emergency medical services were called to the facility where they found her airway obstructed by maggots. As they began suctioning her throat and airways, they found very active maggots, estimated to be in the first to second stage of development.

Unfortunately, these are not isolated incidents. These and other reported cases of neglect and abuse occur on a regular basis in nursing homes throughout the state. Such incidents often go unnoticed or unreported by nursing home staff, hospitals, and emergency personnel – even though such mandated reporters are required by law to report incidents of abuse or neglect. Many cases are never brought to justice simply because required reporters fail to comply with the law and report these crimes to law enforcement.

“Nursing home staff and the owners and administration of these nursing homes absolutely need to be held accountable for their negligence,” says Cerano. “The failure is system wide and the people of Michigan have been short-changed by regulatory agencies, health departments, licensing, and those who are responsible for reporting and pressing charges against those who tolerate such abusive conditions.

This is a disgrace and an outrage, not only are there outrageous abuses occurring, but the multiple layers of agencies and regulatory safeguards to protect the residents have failed miserably. Our goal is to eliminate abuse and neglect of people with disabilities in all settings. Increasing the public outrage of the conditions in some nursing homes is only our first step.”

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Posted on:
December 18, 2012