This is an updated version concerning Daddy’s death in a nursing home facility.
Daddy was my sunshine on a cloudy day, while I was the apple of his eye. So, when I got a phone call from my younger brother, telling me that Daddy had died, I almost passed out. I called out for my husband and he kept me from falling.
I can still remember how my life was a child wearing handy-me-downs, bringing pancake sandwiches to school, and choking on collard greens and grits for supper. Back then, we were waiting on receiving help from the Veteran’s Administration. It was in Daddy’s military medical records about his nervous affliction which had been caused by him serving in Cherbourg in World War II.
When the flashbacks of the war began to haunt Daddy, we nearly lost everything! According to the notes taken by Daddy’s psychiatrist, we were living on a mere $10.00 a week for a family of six. We were lucky to still have a roof over our heads! Mother did laundry for other people and used that money to pay the monthly mortgage.
My younger brother and I knew what it meant to live in poverty throughout most of our school years. Help didn’t arrive for him or me, until my senior year in high school. So, one could easily say that I had a first-hand experience of what it meant to have a father living with post-traumatic, stress disorder during the 1960’s and how it affected the family.
Eventually, Daddy handled his PTSD with proper nutrition and exercise and that wasn’t until he was in his seventies. So, for about a decade, Daddy had found some peace, before he had a massive heart attack, which eventually led to his placement in a nursing home facility.
Daddy died in this nursing home facility in Florida on July 7, 2007. On his death certificate it states cause of death, “unknown.” Now, by the time I had received his medical records, which came in a large box, and determine his cause of death, it was too late to do anything about what had happened to him. I got chills running up and down my spine as I came across the number of drugs Daddy had been given. I knew in my heart these drugs were questionable and when I discovered more about certain ones, the statute of limitations to file a lawsuit had expired. Daddy had been given an average of 22 drugs on a daily basis. Logically, it’s going to take time to determine if anyone of these drugs led to his death or a combination of certain ones.
Now, even if I had met the time frame and could prove his death was drug-related, no one would have taken the case. After all, Daddy was 92 years old. But, like many elderly, Daddy was certainly not the only one to die of “unknown causes.”
Think about it! If one wanted to receive a kickback or a bonus for purchasing and/or distributing pharmaceutical drugs to the elderly, there’s money to be made from the government. The price tag for pharmaceutical drugs is extremely beyond an average person’s ability to pay, unless they only have to worry about co-pays or get it for free, like the elderly. Yet, someone is still making money, because the pharmaceutical companies don’t produce their products for free. They’re still going to make their hefty profit.
When it comes to money, the root-of-all-evil, who is going to question if an elderly person needs all the pharmaceutical drugs he or she has been given, especially when it has been prescribed by a medical professional? Now, if that person should die, due to the side effects of a medical drug, does anyone have the balls to question it? After all, the person was old and ready to kick-the-bucket. Imagine! The money that could be made simply by prescribing unnecessary pharmaceutical drugs to the elderly, over and over again, and not have to worry about someone’s death!
As I took one summer to go through Daddy’s medical records, I came across the use of Risperidone, when he first entered the nursing home on October 23, 2003 along with Zoloft. He was listed as having post-traumatic, stress disorder in his military medical records, but he certainly wasn’t suffering from it. Later, I noticed a statement about discontinuing the use of Risperidone on December 5, 2003. Now, this little tidbit of information was never recorded formally on that date in Daddy’s medical records, but simply appeared in a notation made by a medical records clerk on May 1, 2007. It’s interesting how thorough I had to be to uncover this important medical “boo-boo.” However, Daddy was never taken off the Risperidone.
Before Daddy walked through the doors of the nursing home, he believed he would recuperate and return home to Mother. Daddy had heart surgery and had some complications in making a full recovery, since Mother wasn’t able to see to his needs.
According to the consistent notes taken by the kinesiologist, Daddy came regularly for his therapy. Before Daddy entered the nursing home, he was able to walk. But, soon after his admittance, he would lose his balance and fall. Guess what? That was one of the side effects from taking Risperidone. Daddy had a number of reported falls and every time Daddy stated he was fine. I guess that’s because he didn’t want to take more medications. He just wanted to get released and go back home to Mother.
Other side effects from taking Risperidone are aggressive behavior, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, memory problems, stiffness or weakness of the arms and legs and difficulty speaking or swallowing, an increase amount of urination, as well as problems with urination.
Of course with any of these side effects, just give Daddy another drug to take! This drug probably made it impossible for him to ever walk again and no matter how many times he went for his KT, he was facing a losing battle! Daddy wasn’t going to get out of Dodge and if he did, he would need to bring a stack of diapers with him. That’s right! Daddy started wearing diapers, due to his inability to control his urine (another known side effect of Risperidone.)
Riperadone has also been associated with adverse health complications, but I’m only going to mention the ones that affected Daddy and they are: Increased risk of sudden death from heart attack, and increased mortality in the elderly with dementia and related psychosis.
There were times, ironically not mentioned in his medical record, but from my older brother and mother who visited Daddy every week, he was placed temporarily in a private room because of his hallucinations. My brother had asked the hospital staff, “What in hell are you giving him?” I guess that’s why it’s not in Daddy’s medical records and ‘why’ he wasn’t the person the hospital staff notified when Daddy passed away.
Well, folks, just follow the money trail when it comes to giving the elderly Risperidone. The Department of Justice filed a Risperidone lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson based on the False Claims Act claiming that between 1999 and 2004, Johnson & Johnson paid 50 million dollars in kickbacks to a pharmaceutical supply company, Omnicare, to see Risperidone used in nursing homes. The kickbacks appeared as payments to Omnicare for sham services, and Omnicare used the money to initiate programs aimed at convincing doctors to prescribe Risperidone to nursing home residents. Omnicare settled its own lawsuit for $112 million.
Well, in 2010, investors became so angry over this controversy about Riperidone, and so they filed a derivative lawsuit against the Johnson & Johnson’s executives in New Jersey federal court and they settled for $2.2 billion. I guess the rich make sure they get what they think they deserve, while those who suffer get nothing!
The FDA didn’t approve the use of Risperidone for the treatment of dementia in the elderly, because they’re more likely to die of pneumonia or heart disease. Ironically, Daddy did come down with pneumonia in the last year of his life and had documented chest pain. He never got better and had to have a tube put in his stomach because Daddy was no longer able to swallow.
Daddy’s medical records were never clear about him having dementia and that’s because he didn’t have it! Daddy was given this drug, because he supposedly still suffered from PTSD, which some falsely labeled as “schizophrenia.”
Besides the Risperidone being given to Daddy, he was also given Epogen for the treatment of anemia. Recent studies have indicated that Risperidone can cause anemia. So, Daddy’s so-called anemia was initiated by taking Risperidone. However, Epogen should never have been given to Daddy, because it’s used to treat a lower than normal number of red blood cells caused by chronic kidney disease in patients on dialysis to reduce or avoid the need for red blood cell transfusions. Daddy was never on dialysis.
Unfortunately, many people who took Epogen began to develop a number of serious and potentially life-threatening side effects. One of the most dangerous side effects from Epogen is blood clots. Blood clots can easily travel through the circulatory system to the heart or brain, where they can cause heart attacks, strokes, or heart failure. Daddy had a lot of bloody stools and blood clots coming out of his rectum, as noted on his medical records. Of course, there’s a lawsuit for those who suffered the ill effects of Epogen use! But, not for Daddy!
Daddy began taking Epogen on August 3, 2006 and died almost a year later. Examining these medical reports, I don’t know why they gave Daddy that drug! It might have been because they were planning on doing cataract surgery. But, a day before the surgery, Daddy changed his mind. I noticed in the reports, Daddy was on this drug and periodically taken off this drug. Once again, he never should have been on it!
From a further examination of Daddy’s medical records, I discovered a brief recommendation to discontinue using Risperidone on May 2, 2007, from deciphering a written conversation between two medical doctors stating he was an old man and just continue giving him the Risperidone. Obviously, the welfare of Daddy meant nothing to these individuals. I became sick on my stomach from reading that! I guess they didn’t see him as someone with rights, just another old guinea pig that they didn’t have to worry about. Florida’s law of limitations would cover their asses and in a big way!
In Florida, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice is two years. from when the patient or sometimes a family member either knew, or should have known with the exercise of reasonable diligence, that the injury has occurred and there is a reasonable possibility that the injury was caused by medical malpractice. If that’s not bad enough, if the case involves a State agency as a defendant, or a military or Veterans Administration Hospital or Clinic, there are special advance notice and time requirements that must be strictly followed. In other words, you’re screwed!
Daddy was diagnosed with an onset of bronchitis on April 2, 2007 and one day later, they had him on IV antibiotics for pneumonia. After complaining of chest pains, Daddy was admitted to the hospital on April 5, 2007. On April 6, 2007, Daddy was given levofloxacin, otherwise known as levaquin. Levaquin has a number of side effects which includes dysphagia occurring soon after taking this drug. Dysphagia is the name of the condition for when one can’t swallow. For people over the age of 60 taking levaquin, fifty percent developed irreversible dysphagia. Daddy continued to take levofloxacin, until May 1, 2007, even though he received a PEG on April 16, 2007. A PEG (percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy) is a feeding tube given to a person who is having serious trouble swallowing, which is used to bypass the mouth and esophagus, allowing feeding to go directly through the gastrointestinal tract.
In addition to the PEG, Daddy’s medical records indicated that on April 26, 2007, he was using a nasogastric tube when my older brother came for a visit. Nasogastric feeding tubes are rigid plastic tubes that are inserted through the nose and passed down through the esophagus to rest in the stomach. Nasogastric (NG) intubation is most often used to deliver food and medicine to a patient when they are unable to eat or swallow. So, why did Daddy need an NG, if he already had a PEG?
Patients most likely to need an NG tube are comatose patients, patients with neck or facial injuries or recent surgeries, patients breathing with the assistance of a mechanical ventilator, and a premature infant.
An NG tube may also be used to remove poisonous substances or deliver medicine to neutralize a potentially dangerous substance. Patients with a suspected drug overdose or accidental poisoning may receive NG tubes so that healthcare providers can reduce the chances of death or severe reaction and deliver treatment more quickly.
In addition, an NG tube may be used to remove contents of the stomach for testing or analysis. The contents of the stomach can tell doctors how well the gastrointestinal tract is functioning. An NG tube can also be used to remove an intestinal obstruction or blockage that may be causing pain, discomfort, and swelling.
If the NG tube is not properly inserted in Daddy, it can injure the tissue inside his sinuses, throat, esophagus, or stomach. The tube could also mistakenly be placed into his lungs; food and medicine may pass into Daddy’s lungs if this were to occur.
NG tube feedings also have some complications which includes regurgitation of the food and medicine and aspiration of the food or medicine.
Now, I don’t know if Daddy had both of these feeding devices at the same time, or whether he had an NG tube for a brief time and then went back to the PEG, perhaps due to some infection. But, I do know that he was diagnosed with respiratory congestion and tachypnea on June 15, 2007. In the Chaplain’s report, Daddy’s physical pain was at 99. He was given Zosyn and Flagyl, which have recently been considered as bad drugs and lawsuits are pending, instead of being suctioned and having large amounts of yellow, thick sputum removed. This remedy didn’t occur, until the following day.
Another report from the Chaplain, indicated that Daddy experienced no pain after the removal of the sputum. But, unfortunately, the medical staff started Daddy back on Epogen, and Risperadone. In addition to these drugs, they began giving Daddy another drug known as, “metoclopramide.” Another name for metoclopramide is Reglan.
Reglan was approved by the FDA in 1980 and was marketed by A.H. Robins, now Wyeth-which is owned by Pfizer. The drug was used to treat acid reflux and heart burn, as well as gastroparesis, a condition where food moves too slowly through the digestive system. This drug can caused tardive dyskinesia, which is a neurological disorder that causes involuntary, rapid movements of the face and body. Pharmaceutical companies have known about the risks of this drug for decades. In fact, the serious side effects about metoclopramide have been published in various medical journals.
In one review of the drug dating back to 1970 published in, “Archives of Disease in Childhood,” doctors reported that children who were given metoclopramide for minor stomach ailments manifested some alarming side effects during their treatment. The reported side effects were pain and the inability to move one’s neck, random eye movements, restless movements of the arms and torso and the inability to speak.
On June 18, 2007, Daddy wasn’t able to communicate, due to severe dementia. No wonder! Look at all of the dangerous drugs he had been subjected to!
However, according to notes taken by a social worker, Daddy was alert and responded verbally to questions on June 23, 2007 and June 24, 2007. Then, he suddenly passes away on July 7, 2007 from unknown causes as stated on his death certificate.
As previously mentioned, the nursing home called my younger brother, who lived two hours away, about Daddy’s death and not my older brother, who lived a mere twenty minutes away. It took my younger brother more than three hours to arrive and that’s plenty of time to cover-up any act of wrong-doing! How could they NOT know what Daddy died from! Despite the fact that it took my younger brother time to get there and Daddy had been removed from his room and placed in isolation, his hands were somewhat warm. My younger brother thought that was very strange!
Of course, Mother was greatly affected by the loss of her husband. She wasn’t able to adjust to his passing and her health dwindled quickly. After all, they had been married for over 60 years. Sadly, she passed away a year later, and soon after she was declared deceased, her hands were cold and stiff, unlike Daddy’s.
It’s a criminal act against humanity the way that many state laws are written concerning medical malpractice and drug-related deaths! It is obvious that Daddy’s death was no accident. In fact, I can’t say it was due to malpractice, either, because that could indicate that the medical professionals simply made a mistake. This was no mistake! When one looks at the long list of dangerous drugs given to Daddy, how could anyone call that a mistake? No, this was a criminal act leading to one’s death without remorse. When a murder in any state has been committed, there are no laws written stating that there is a time factor in which to prosecute, so why is there one when it comes to the overuse of dangerous drugs resulting in the death of an individual? Until these laws are changed, we’ll continue to live in a lawless, greedy society where human lives mean nothing!