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Excuse me, but it is a widely known fact this it is EXTREMELY DANGEROUS for a person to smoke while hooked up to oxygen! I would certainly hope that every nursing home staff member would be aware that smoking while tethered to oxygen could (likely would) lead to an explosion! Yet according to a report posted on the Illinois Nursing Home Abuse Blog (http://blog.levinperconti.com) a nursing home located in Illinois — Charleston Rehab & Health Care Center — was fined $12,500.00 because staff failed to ensure that the facility was free of accident hazards and that each resident received proper supervision to prevent accidents.

According to a state inspection report issued in late 2011, a resident of the facility who had smoking privileges was not served well by staff members who failed to remove a liquid oxygen tank and cannula from the gentleman before allowing him to smoke. It is absolutely essential that all nursing home staff members protect residents from serious risks at all times. In the case of this situation, staff allowed a 64 year old resident to act out with this behavior, which lead to the resident suffering second and third degree burns on his face and right hand! After the oxygen ignited, the man was rushed to a local hospital where he was treated and is expected to recover from his injuries.

Many vulnerable individuals are placed in the care of nursing homes specifically because there are too many safety risks present for them to safely live alone. Close observation is required to ensure that those risks are guarded against and seniors are allowed to live free of serious harm. You can not have “close observation” when corporate greed overrules common decency and leads to under-staffing in nursing homes.

I don’t believe that any form of “special training” was needed to prevent the resident mentioned above from being burned. Rather common sense and close observation was all that was needed by nursing staff.

Am I claiming that most nursing home staff members lack common sense? Not all all. MOST would never have allowed this situation to occur. Never. Because some nursing home staff members appear to not have common sense, this is why inspections of nursing homes — along with reports to the state by family members and friends who observe inappropriate behavior by staff — are absolutely essential to prevent residents from experiencing senseless harm.

Nursing home administrators and owners frequently insist that government regulations are somehow harming the industry — allegedly making it “less profitable” for for-profit facilities to operate. Yet the reality is that without regulations, let alone the presence of persons who have integrity to conduct frequent inspections, nursing homes simply can not be trusted to protect their residents from harm.

Make no mistake, the lobbyists for the nursing home industry in every corner of our nation are constantly pressuring state and federal legislators to lessen the regulations they have to follow. This is another reason Nursing Home Reform advocates like you and me are needed to protect the safety of residents from an industry lacking anything close to decent ethics.

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