Accidental poisoning shouldn’t happen in nursing care, but it does

Of all the types of harm that could potentially befall a loved one in a nursing home or other care facility, most people wouldn’t consider poisoning by toxic cleaning products. However, it can happen – with devastating results.

Atria Senior Living, which is based in Louisville, is facing accusations of accidental poisonings of residents in two of their assisted living facilities last month. Three people in their 90s have died.

Three people in Atria facilities have died

In the first case, Atria admitted that three people were mistakenly given dishwashing liquid that had been poured into a pitcher to put into dishwashers but was mistaken for fruit juice and placed on a table in the dining area. Two of them have died, and at least one family has already filed a lawsuit.

Atria is still disputing details of the second case, which happened not far away from and within days of the first. It killed a 94-year-old man in a dementia wing of the facility. The man’s son, a doctor, says that his father drank cleaning fluid. Atria has said that the man suffered a “negative reaction” that “was likely food-related” but at last report was awaiting autopsy results.

Poisoning is a particular danger to those with cognitive issues

Elderly people, particularly those suffering from dementia or simply cognitive decline, can all too easily fall victim to poisoning. Even those who live at home may take an accidental overdose of a medication, suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning in a closed-up home or consume a toxic substance that’s in an unmarked container.

However, we expect our loved ones whom we’ve entrusted to the care of professionals to be spared those types of dangers.  As the son of one of the people who died in an Atria facility says, “It’s like leaving a bottle of caustic cleaning agent in a daycare….He just saw something to drink and he drank it.”

While poisoning incidents can happen in isolation, something this egregious is often part of a pattern of negligence by a facility or a larger company as a whole. That’s why it’s always crucial to do some due diligence into legal actions against a facility you’re considering for a loved one. While no amount of money can ever bring someone back, civil legal actions can save other families the harm and grief suffered by yours. 


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