Family Alleged Nursing Home Poisoned Resident in Juice, Cleaning Solution Mix-Up

October 24, 2022

Family Alleged Nursing Home Poisoned Resident in Juice, Cleaning Solution Mix-Up

The family of a deceased resident of a Northern California nursing home has filed suit against the nursing home’s operator, alleging that negligent staff caused a mixup that resulted in the resident’s death from ingesting industrial cleaning solution.

Nursing Home Residents Served Industrial Cleaner

Trudy Maxwell, 93, was a resident at the Atria Park nursing home in San Mateo. Maxwell, who had been diagnosed with dementia, had moved into Atria Park in October 2020. On August 27, a nursing home employee escorted Maxwell to the cafeteria for breakfast. Maxwell’s family alleged that, around that time, another staff member was violating the nursing home’s protocols by filling a pitcher with liquid dishwasher detergent with identical color and consistency to cranberry juice, intending to use the pitcher to load a commercial dishwashing machine. However, a third staff member picked up the pitcher and, mistaking it for cranberry juice, served it to Maxwell and two other residents. 

Maxwell drank the liquid and immediately suffered severe burns and blistering to her mouth, throat, and esophagus. Maxwell’s family alleged that Atria staff did not call 911 for approximately 30 minutes during which Maxwell was in extreme pain. By the time Maxwell was transported to the hospital, doctors immediately concluded that she was unlikely to survive due to the extent of the visible injuries to her mouth and throat. Maxwell died two days later. One of the other two residents who ingested the detergent also passed away two weeks later. 

Maxwell’s family alleged that her death was avoidable as Atria “did nothing” to retrain staff even though a similar incident had occurred at another Atria nursing home in the Bay Area several days earlier when a dementia patient became ill and died after drinking an unknown liquid. In their lawsuit, Maxwell’s family alleged that the prior incident should have alerted Atria to issue an advisory to facility staff and boost staffing numbers, which could have saved Maxwell, but that Atria did nothing in response to the “red flag warning.” The family claimed that the nursing home operator was endangering residents by putting profits over care, including maintaining minimal permanent staffing members supplemented by per diem and temporary workers who lacked appropriate safety training and knew little about the needs of residents. 

District Attorney’s Office Reviewing Investigation into Poisonings

The San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office stated that it is reviewing the results of the police investigation into Maxwell’s and the other residents’ poisoning at Atria. In addition, the district attorney’s office also noted that its consumer fraud unit was investigating Atria as a company to determine whether it was operating in an “appropriate, businesslike fashion.” 

What Are Your Rights If a Loved One Has Been the Victim of Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect?

If your family has had a loved one harmed by the negligence, recklessness or abusive behavior of nursing home staff, you may be entitled to recover compensation for:

  • Medical and rehabilitation to treat your loved one’s injuries
  • Long-term rehabilitation expenses
  • Costs of relocation to another nursing home facility

In addition, if your loved one passed away from nursing home abuse or neglect, you may be entitled to seek financial recovery for the emotional impacts of the loss of your loved one. 

Contact a Pittsburgh Nursing Home Negligence Lawyer to Discuss Your Case Today

Seniors in nursing homes and other care facilities deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Additionally, nursing home staff needs to ensure that patients are safe and secure at all times. If your loved one suffered an injury, or worse, due to nursing home negligence or abuse in Pennsylvania, you need to speak with a qualified attorney. The experienced nursing home neglect attorneys at Goodrich & Geist, P.C. represent clients in Pittsburgh and the surrounding Western PA counties. Call (412) 766-1455 or fill out the online contact form to schedule a free consultation today. We have an office conveniently located at 3634 California Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15212. Home visits can be arranged in certain situations. 

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.