According to an article written by the St. Louis Post Dispatch, three nursing home residents in St. Louis died from overdosing on illegal drugs, one of whom actually died at the facility Northview Village. Reportedly, the residents obtained the drugs from a fourth resident.
How is it possible that nursing home residents had such little supervision that they could buy and sell illegal drugs without facility administrators or owners knowing about it? The most likely possibility is that there simply are not enough staff members to adequately monitor the residents. If the facility does not have enough staff members to know if residents are buying and selling drugs, how can it possibly be able to provide the care and supervision residents are required to receive?
State and federal rules require nursing homes to have enough staff members to “meet the needs of the residents”. This means that if a resident requires 6 hours of care that day to meet her needs, then the nursing home is required to provide that care. If they can’t provide that level of care, then they must not accept her as a resident. If a nursing home accepts the money to provide the care, then they must provide the level of care the resident requires.
Providing adequate care also means providing a safe environment. If there are drug deals happening in the facility, that is not a safe environment. Now, some may say that this is an isolated incident and that the facility can’t possibly know what residents were doing in secret and that the nursing home should not be held responsible for what residents do behind the backs of employees. Well, maybe…but the question then becomes was this really a secret?
A quick Google search of the facility reveals a 2015 review by a woman who claims to be a former employee at the facility that states, in part: “Horrible place. Drug addicts on the same floors with the elderly just to get the census high.”
You can see the that review and others here. https://www.senioradvice.com/providers/view/northview-village-saint-louis-mo
It appears that the 2015 review may very well have been accurate because now, almost three years later newspaper reports claim that three residents died from illegal drugs received from a fourth resident.
Of course not all website reviews are accurate or even true, but if this review is accurate and true, then the nursing home and its ownership group had three years to investigate this claim and clean up the facility. There is a legal term called “notice” that is very important when talking about who is responsible when a resident is seriously injured or dies due to nursing home negligence. If a nursing home has “notice” of a potential or actual problem at the facility and does not fix the problem, then they are much more likely to be held responsible for future injuries associated with that problem.
Here, if the 2015 review that there were drug addicts living in the facility just to get the census higher (census is the number of residents in the facility) is true, then Northview Village may have significant legal liability associated with these three deaths because it appears that the response to the problem was either insufficient or non-existent.
What should the nursing home and its owners have done upon receiving a report that residents were receiving and taking illegal drugs in the facility? At a minimum they should have done the following:
- Recognized that there is a potential problem and take it seriously
- Performed a search of all rooms for illegal drugs
- Discharged any residents discovered to have provided or accepted illegal drugs
- Investigated all employees and immediately terminated anyone found to have helped the residents or even knew about the illegal drug use and failed to report it.
- Realized that this was not a one-time problem and implanted policies and procedures to prevent this from happening in the future; and
- Hired and retained enough staff members who are appropriately trained to recognize and stop the use and distribution of illegal drugs.
If you have a loved one who has died or been seriously injured by this drug event at Northview Village or any other negligent conduct, the Terry Law Firm can help you. Call our office at 314-878-9797 and talk directly with our founding lawyer David W. Terry.