Poway Nursing Home Fined $95,000 for Heatstroke Death
State health officials have fined Poway-based ManorCare Health Services $95,000 -- the largest penalty of its kind to date -- for the heatstroke death of a 70-year-old man who was left unattended in 97-degree heat, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. The report from the Division of Licensing and Certification sent to the nursing home on Jan. 3 said that the unidentified patient died in October from thermal injury and hyperthermia caused by environmental exposure after he was left restrained in a wheelchair for two hours, "unsupervised by the staff in a partly covered cemented patio." The report said the patient was taking Risperdal, an antipsychotic drug that requires patients to avoid "direct exposure" to sunshine due to a risk of heatstroke. The facility's written care plan did not include precautions for patients taking the drug. However, the citation also noted that no elderly patient should be left unsupervised in hot weather "even if not at increased risk for such reactions." The Union-Tribune reports the citation was classified as "AA," a degree of severity rarely reached in California. Last year, 23 such citations were issued, but the fines never exceeded $90,000. ManorCare spokesperson Kelly Kessler said the company is appealing the fine (Clark, San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/10).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.