Nursing Home Fails to Provide Patient with Respiratory Support; Trial Verdict for Family

A 76-year-old female nursing home patient was transferred to Berkshire Health & Rehabilitation Center, a nursing home in Vinton, Virginia operated by Medical Facilities of America, Inc. The patient had severe respiratory disease on admission.

Oxygen Saturation LevelsThe nursing home permitted the patient’s oxygen saturation to dip to 63%. The patient complained of not being able to breath, but the nursing home’s staff did not contact a medical doctor. Her oxygen saturation remained low at approximately 62%, but no medical doctor was contacted in response. The nursing home was instructed to send the patient to the emergency department if her oxygen saturation could not be maintained at 85% or higher.

Later in the evening after the order was received, the patient experienced breathing problems. While on the telephone with her granddaughter, she began yelling for a nurse to help her. The nursing home staff told family the patient was fine. When family visited later in the evening, they found the patient lying in her own urine and feces. Her oxygen and breathing machine also were not turned on and she was still having trouble breathing. The patient told her daughter that no nurse had responded to her repeated requests for help.

A nursing home therapist noted that moments before the family arrived, the patient was cold, clammy, and gasping for breath, and had an oxygen saturation of 86%. The therapist alerted nurses about the patient’s condition, but the nursing home did not contact a physician.

After the family’s visit, the patient was reported to be unresponsive. The nursing home’s staff merely pronounced the patient dead without performing CPR even though the patient was a “full code” patient who specifically wanted CPR to be performed if resuscitation became necessary.

The patient was not revived. The patient’s family sued the nursing home and its corporate owner for failing to provide respiratory support as required and for failing to perform CPR. After a several-day trial in Roanoke, Virginia, a jury reached a verdict for the patient’s family and awarded the family a substantial sum.


Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia.

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