St. Luke's Hospital cited for 'maltreatment by neglect,' denies staffing is the issue

Anuja Vaidya (Twitter) - Print  | 

Duluth, Minn.-based St. Luke's Hospital is facing allegations of neglect after two incidents of a patient being found in the morning lying on a bedpan with a wound in the shape of the bedpan on her bottom, according to a Duluth News Tribune. State health officials blamed inadequate staffing, but the hospital pushed back.

A report by the Minnesota Department of Health's Office of Health Facility Complaints, which details an investigation completed Aug. 23, shows that this is the second time this happened to the same patient. The report, which was made public Dec. 24, resulted in a maltreatment by neglect finding against the hospital by the state health department.

The report does not state when the incidents occurred, but notes that the patient was brought to the hospital to be treated for a hip fracture. The patient was in an advanced state of dementia and could not communicate her needs or use the call light. On two separate mornings, the patient was discovered with a bedpan beneath her and bruises on her buttocks.

The report cited inadequate staffing as a reason for the incidents. A special investigator for the Office of Health Facility Complaints interviewed hospital staff members who said that nursing assistants were often busy with other duties. The night before both incidents, the night nurse did not have anyone to help reposition the patient.

St. Luke's denies that staffing is the issue. In a news release, CMO Gary Peterson, MD, states: "We believe it was the result of a lack of communication, not staffing."

The hospital has put safeguards in place to prevent such incidents, including the use of whiteboards to keep track of when patients are placed on bedpans and when they need to be checked on, according to the report.

The hospital does not plan to appeal the maltreatment finding, the Tribune reports.

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