For days, a resident at the Scott County Nursing Center in Winchester, Illinois suffered the excruciating pain associated with a perirectal abscess while the staff at Scott County neglected the increasingly alarming signs of a person in a life-threatening situation.
In this case, the woman’s keen choice in appointing a caring and diligent Power of Attorney (POA) probably saved her life.
On the first day of her ordeal, a Certified Nurses Aide (CNA) noted a hard, red area on the resident’s lower body. The next day, the nurse’s notes indicate that the resident was violently shaking with a fever.
On the third day, the resident’s temperature rose, the hard area grew purple, and the woman was in considerable pain. Later that afternoon, the POA visited the home, took stock of the situation, and demanded that the resident be taken from the Scott County Nursing Center to the local hospital in Winchester, Illinois.
At the hospital, the woman was diagnosed as being in septic shock, and the “hard, red area” was, in fact, a perirectal abscess that required surgery. The Scott County Nursing Center was able to provide some documentation that they faxed a report to the resident’s physician, but they never followed up on that contact.
The sad truth of the matter is that most people who enter nursing homes never return to an autonomous lifestyle, especially when they suffer from a debilitating disease like Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, or some other form of dementia.
For these people, choosing a POA with compassion and tenacity is essential to protecting themselves from nursing home neglect. While every child may feel protective of their elderly parents, children are not always the best choice for POA.
Frequently, children live great distances from the nursing home their parent or parents reside in, and they often have responsibilities to their own children and careers that prevent them from being the diligent overseers of their parents’ health care that they would like to be. Sometimes, a retired life-long friend, sibling, or other relative who lives nearby can be more readily available for the kind of visitation that, as in this case, can save lives.