Community blamed for death of resident who drank detergent

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Photo by Amanda Mills.
Photo by Amanda Mills.

A memory care community is responsible for the death of a resident who was left unattended and drank a lethal amount of dishwasher detergent, the Minnesota Department of Health said this week, according to a media report.

Emerald Crest, an Augustana Care community in Shakopee, MN, according to a health department investigation recently released and reported on by the Star Tribune, was neglectful in leaving the chemical within reach of the resident in February 2016 and for not making sure that all staff members were trained on how to use and store the detergent safely. The resident was not named in the report.

“This tragedy affected everyone deeply,” Dave Saemrow of Augustana Care told the newspaper, confirming the details of the report. “To prevent this from happening again, we reviewed all safety policies and procedures extensively and retrained staff members,” he added.

The health department's investigation, the Star Tribune said, found that a staff member left a half-full bottle of dishwasher detergent on a kitchen counter, where the resident took it, poured some of the liquid into a glass and drank it. A nurse called for an ambulance when the resident subsequently complained of a sore throat and spit up blood and phlegm. The resident died two weeks later.

In 2015, a jury awarded $5 million to the family of a Michigan senior living resident with dementia who died after ingesting dishwashing detergent.

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