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Minnesota Nursing Home Patient Dies from Taser Injuries

Nursing home abuse lawyers at Pintas & Mullins report that a 76-year-old nursing home resident from Minnesota recently passed away from complications of injuries from being tasered. Police used a taser on the elderly man while responding to a call for help from Park Health and Rehab in St. Louis Park.

The man, Zheng Diao, was behaving erratically at the nursing home when the police were called, on July 14, 2013. He was wielding a knife and scissors and moved the knife toward his throat when officers requested he drop the weapons. Diao, however, did not speak English, and officers ultimately tasered him to keep him from harming himself. Diao immediately fell to the ground after the shock, seriously injuring his face.

He was brought by ambulance to Hennepin County Medical Center, where he died on July 29. His cause of death was pneumonia, which he developed while being treated for delirium and massive injuries. Park Health and Rehab stated that the incident was unfortunate, but that the staff responded appropriately at the time by calling the police for assistance.

St. Louis Park police stated that it will enlist an outside, independent agency to investigate the man’s death and events leading up to it. The Minnesota Department of Health is also investigating the incident. We have reported extensively about the devastating consequences of police tasering. Suspects who are subdued by taser can experience very serious cardiac episodes after the event, which can lead to cardiac arrests and death.

The president of the National Association of State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs stated that health care workers throughout the nation need better training on how to deal with erratic or aggressive residents. Too often, inexperienced or overworked nursing home employees let these situations escalate out of control, using physical, chemical, or violent restraint to subdue them.

Residents with dementia are often most at risk of erratic behavior, as they can become more easily confused, agitated, and aggressive. In 2009 in Minnesota, former wrestler Vern Gagne threw a fellow Alzheimer’s patient onto the ground at a retirement home. The man suffered a broken hip and later died from complications.

Park Health and Rehab is owned and operated by one of the nation’s largest nursing home chains, Extendicare. The facility has been subject to investigations about eight times in recent years after reports were sent to the Office of Health Facility Complaints.

A surprising story out of Nevada recently detailed how widespread the abuse of seniors is in that state. The Las Vegas Review-Journal recently reported that Nevada is one of just two states in which every nursing home has been cited for deficiencies by state health inspectors. One in three Nevada nursing homes has been cited for a severe deficiency, which refers to violations that left a resident in imminent danger or inflicted actual harm.

Despite this, in 2012, Nevada did not issue one single monetary penalty against a nursing home, though it did refuse to pay for any new resident admissions at one facility. Injuries from neglect, mistreatment and abuse are rampant in Nevada, where numerous homes are on the federal Special Focus Facility List. Experts assert that state nursing home must first increase quality and amount of staff to improve care standards.

It is worth noting that, over the pasts decade, publicly traded nursing home (such as Extendicare) stock prices have increased about 415%. That outpaces the stock market 2-to-1, which clearly shows that nursing home chains are concerned only with one thing: profits. Understaffed nursing homes are the number one cause of neglect and mistreatment, and these highly profitable chains could increase staffing levels at any time.

Nursing home neglect lawyers at Pintas & Mullins have extensive experience and knowledge about elder abuse litigation, and are currently representing seniors nationwide. If you or a loved one was seriously injured at a nursing home, you have important legal rights, and may be entitle to compensation for your injuries.