Man Sent to Recover in Care Facility Dies by Suffocation Because of a Staffing Error: Nursing Home Neglect at Its Worst

On December 11, 2011, the Detroit Free Press published a series of articles investigating nursing home neglect. The first article, titled “Nursing Homes with Good Staff, Stopgaps Can Still Fail”, reports the accidental death of a man as a direct result of nursing home neglect. After having an accident, James Culbert was sent to a care facility to recover. Instead, he died a painful, devastating death by suffocation because the night staff had forgotten to connect his ventilator and check his vital signs. By the time the staff realized their error, it was much too late. Unfortunately, deaths as a result of careless errors are a common occurrence in nursing homes. In the second part of its series, titled “Troubled Nursing Homes Aren’t Closed,” the Detroit Free Press discusses how care facilities are able to remain open, despite major violations of state and federal codes, and incidents, such as James Culbert’s, that often result in death. Finally, the last portion, “Nursing Homes: A Caring Staff Makes All the Difference,” emphasizes the importance of an adequate, highly-qualified staff.

Staffing is the fundamental problem directly linked to all other issues that may occur in nursing homes. While care facilities are legally obligated to meet the minimum of 3.2 nursing hours per patient per day, they are also held accountable for providing high-quality care for their patients. In your search for the best nursing home for your loved one, the Detroit Free Press cautions against automatically correlating quality of care to the physical appearance of the facility because looks can be deceiving. Surprisingly, the Detroit Free Press found that the newest facilities that market luxurious living and provide generous accommodations are sometimes ranked lowest in quality of care. Instead, the article emphasizes the importance of an adequate, qualified staff.

Unfortunately, many nursing homes lack such a staff. The Detroit Free Press investigated various deaths that occurred in nursing homes and found that many of them could have been prevented with a more attentive staff. Falls were among the most common causes of death, simply because a patient would fall down and hours would pass before a staff member even noticed, often much too late. Another common staffing error involves medications. The Detroit Free Press reported one death in which a man was given another patient’s diabetes medication. When patients’ lives are on the line, it is crucial that caregivers avoid making such careless mistakes. In some serious cases, caregivers even forgot to feed patients, who eventually starved to death. This raises the issue of malnutrition and dehydration, which provides clear evidence of nursing home neglect, even when it does not directly lead to death.


To find the best and most suitable home for your loved one, the Detroit Free Press mentions some common indicators of top-notch nursing homes. They hire and maintain a high-quality staff, who usually receive better pay than the average caregiver. These homes are usually small, non -profit facilities that welcome the residents and their families to be part of everyday decision-making. Living under substandard conditions has serious consequences, so it is important that you take immediate action if your loved one is a victim of nursing home neglect or if you feel that you have a Wrongful Death claim in your hands. If your loved one resides in a nursing home in Compton, Inglewood, or Gardena, contact us today to see how we can help obtain the rights to which you and your loved one