Fined for withholding pain medication

St. Anthony’s fined $25K for withholding pain medication from two patients – by Sarah Hayden, Reporter – Jul 3, 2019

I’m thrilled to finally see some successful pushback from patients who are deliberately left in pain due to opioid restrictions.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) first-quarter report, the nursing facility at 767 30th St., Rock Island, was cited for four license violations related to the abuse and neglect of the patients in December. 

The report, published in April, states the facility failed to monitor pain, establish control of severe pain and administer pain medication for two residents,” one suffering from arthritis and the other from chronic leg pain and open wounds.   

The first incident

The first patient, suffering from arthritis in the right hip, was prescribed an order for a 5% lidocaine medicated patch to be placed on the hip every morning and removed 12 hours later.

Is this a joke? Lidocaine patches treat pain at the surface of the body under the patch and are not effective for deeper pain. I spent almost an hour researching trying to find out how deeply the anesthetic penetrates and this is what I found:

On Dec. 10, the patient reported to IDPH investigators that St. Anthony’s “does not do a good job of managing pain.”

The patient reported frequent pain in the right hip and stated he/she does not receive pain medication in a consistent manner.

According to the patient’s medical record, a lidocaine patch was not administered for five days straight — from Dec. 7 through Dec. 11, 2018.

On Dec. 12, a licensed practical nurse (LPN) confirmed to IDPH investigators that the patient had not received the lidocaine patch because it was not “not available due to insurance reasons,” and that “alternative pain medication had not been given” in its place. 

The second incident

According to the report, a second patient suffering from chronic leg pain was not given pain medication after being released from a hospital and also during a 45-minute dressing change of his wounds.

The patient was discharged from a hospital Dec. 3 with an order to receive narcotic pain medication every four hours as needed for pain.

On Dec. 10, the patient reported his pain medication was cut in half by St. Anthony’s medical director.

The following day, the patient’s leg dressings were being changed and cleaned by an LPN. The IDPH report states that during the dressing change, the patient stated, “this is really going to hurt. I wish I had a leather belt to bite on so I don’t scream.”

The LPN reported the patient’s entire right lower leg was reddened with scattered open areas actively draining a clear, yellow liquid. 

The patient stated he had not had any pain medication since being discharged from the hospital. The LPN told IDPH investigators she had given the patient some Tylenol about 15 minutes prior to the dressing change. 

The IDPH report states, “patient’s care plan has no documentation of interventions to address his pain.”

Perhaps they believe that by not documenting pain, it doesn’t exist “on the record” and this frees them from the obligation to provide pain care.

4 thoughts on “Fined for withholding pain medication

  1. Kathy

    These incidents have been happening for years. I am glad someone sued. Note that this is a “religious hospital” they have been getting away with a lot worse.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Zyp Czyk Post author

      I can’t believe they won – I never imagined such a suit would win in these fervent anti-opioid times. I hope this example will give more people the courage to try suing their torturers.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  2. canarensis

    I had an elderly neighbor that I helped caregive, tho he passed away in December. He spent a while last year in various “care facilities” (what used to be called nursing homes). He repeatedly called me to come give him the hydrocodone he was prescribed 4X/day from his home stock; he insisted that they did not give him his pain meds. They insisted they did. He was (generally, mostly) lucid, but I never knew whom to believe…tho my inclination was to believe that the employees of the place were stealing his pain meds. I had full care duty for only a week while he was away from home, but it sure seemed like a long week. Doesn’t surprise me at all when I read about patients being denied pain meds anywhere these days; that seems more like the rule than the exception. Saw my fairly new doc today, had to sign the contract (of course) but at one point he mentioned that if I went to the ER with a broken bone or something, it was okay to get pain meds & “of course I’ll know about it.” I pointed out that ERs don’t do pain meds, & that I have (another) neighbor who just had a total hysterectomy & large tumor removed who was given nothing but advil & tylenol. I don’t think he believed me…in his case, I really think it’s naiveté rather than stupidity or sadism, but I sure hope he steps up to bat for me if I do end up having to be hospitalized for some agonizing condition…basically my #1 fear in life in these sadistic, insane times.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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