Nursing Home Patient Hangs Himself and Dies While Staff Waits Outside His Door

A nursing home was cited by state authorities for neglect after one of its patients recently committed suicide by closing the door to his room and hanging himself.  Nursing home staff did not attempt to respond to the man by opening the door to his room, even after the man was seen though the cracked door hanging in his room.  Instead, a supervisor at the nursing home told staff not to touch the door and to wait for police to arrive. 

When emergency workers responded, a firefighter was able to push the door open fairly easily and reach the man, but he was no longer breathing and did not have a pulse, even though his skin was still warm.  Emergency workers then tried to resuscitate the man because the nursing home did not notify them right away the man had earlier signed a DNR ("do not resuscitate") order.  The man died at the nursing home from asphyxiation.  Read more about the nursing home's failure to respond to the man. 

The nursing home's staff claimed it did not try to reach the man while he was hanging in his room because opening the door to his room would "cause further injury" if he was still alive.  What?!?  The nursing home's failure to supervise this troubled patient and the incompetence of the the facility's staff caused his death.  Whether patients are injured, suffer, and die as a result of pressure ulcers (pressure sores, bed sores, bedsores, decubitus ulcers), falls with fractures and head injuries, wandering and elopement from the facility, medication errors, malnutrition with weight loss, or dehydration, the combined effects of understaffing and incompetence are fatal!  Tragedies such as these can only be prevented if nursing homes and assisted living facilities get serious by providing ample staff to meet patients' needs and by ensuring staffing have been properly trained and educated. 
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.