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Care home reported for maggots in man's foot

Published: 30 Nov 2012 10:22 GMT+01:00

"We children think that dad has suffered mistreatment of the highest degree," reads a complaint from the children of the 69-year-old man and filed with Sweden's National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen).

"Maggots in a human wound in Sweden in 2012? Maybe in Ethiopia."

The complaint, sent earlier in November, details how the man's children found live maggots in a wound on their father's foot during an August 2012 visit to the Carema-run Månstorps Ängar nursing home in Vellinge municipality in southern Sweden.

"The nurse who was supposed to put on a new bandage started to gag so much she had to leave the room," the children wrote.

Less than two weeks later, the condition of the man, who suffered from diabetes and cardiovascular disease, had deteriorated to such an extent that a nurse felt he should be taken to the emergency room of a local hospital.

But the nursing home's chief doctor ignored the nurse's plea, explaining that the 69-year-old already had a scheduled appointment at the hospital in two days-time.

When the man was finally taken to hospital, more maggots were discovered in the wound on his foot, which had become black due to necrosis.

"The stench which filled the room was indescribable," the man's children wrote.

The following day, the 69-year-old's leg was amputated above the knee due to bone rot. He died three weeks later.

The children's complaint also describes how the man was made to lie in his own faeces for extended periods of time and suffered from serious bed sores they claim could have been avoided had staff at the nursing home been more attentive.

According to the complaint, a nurse told the children the facility had been struggling with staffing shortages.

A nurse also told the man's children that during the summer, patients "should expect flies and maggots" in their wounds.

"For us children, this is completely impossible to accept," they wrote.

Carema responded to inquiries about the incident in a statement published on Thursday explaining that the company had launched an internal investigation in order to "thoroughly examine whether someone failed to follow our procedures".

According to Carema, Vellinge municipality's chief nurse conducted a previous investigation which concluded that staff had "acted correctly".

But the head of the municipal healthcare division, Catharina Byström, admitted staff could have handled their communication with the man's family differently.

"Staff should have made an assessment about whether relatives to the person with the wound should have been informed at an earlier stage," she said in a statement.

Carema has been singled out in a number of other high-profile incidents in the last year, ranging from unchanged diapers to poor working environments, as well as a report of a dementia patient having a role of tape stuffed in his mouth.

The scandals prompted an ongoing debate about the responsibilities of private companies operating in the Swedish healthcare sector, as well as concerns about tightened quality control of elderly homes.

David Landes

Follow David Landes on Twitter

Your comments about this article

12:19 November 30, 2012 by texaslass
The maggot photo is sensationalist. Maggots help to debride the dead tissue, and are actually used in many hospitals.

The real issue is that his diabetes was not controlled and cared for properly for so long.
14:53 November 30, 2012 by k2kats
There is no comparison between controlled therapeutic use of maggots and this situation.

Hint to Carema: A defensive posture at this point is not helping you. Own it ; deal with it.

Caution to relatives: Hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst. Teach your children how to become fierce advocates so that your loved ones will be protected and, when your time comes, you will too.
18:05 November 30, 2012 by larsonczoty
And just this morning I read about an elderly woman in a nursing home located in a suburb of Chicago. Apparently a fly had flown into her ear and laid eggs - a nearby hospital removed FIFTY-NINE MAGGOTS. You can imagine the reaction had by her husband and children. Law suit is pending. I know maggots are a part of nature, but really? This woman, who was unable to speak, apparently had a larger ear canal due to some surgery years ago and was to be receiving medicated ear drops 4X daily. She had been tugging on her ear awhile trying to communicate the discomfort. Ugh.
20:14 November 30, 2012 by Decedo
In Chicago, the lawsuit will be followed by changes and/or improvements, due to the threat of additional lawsuits. In Sweden an 'investigation' will lead to some paid time off for a few staff members, and maybe some counselling.
20:44 November 30, 2012 by cogito
@Decado,

Right. Counseling and time off. Oh, and maybe a few staff will be sent for an expensive course of further education, run by a friend of management and paid for by....us.
09:06 December 3, 2012 by Borilla
Carema again. And again. And again. Until something is done to change the system to require adequate and competent staffing nothing will change. As shown by the comments, we all recognize how this will be dealt with. The person at the bottom will get paid time off and be cautioned NOT TO GET CAUGHT AGAIN! Until the bureaucrats who continue to allow this to happen are sanctioned there will be more nd more stories like this. Better the Inuit way. When the time comes for us to get back what we paid taxes for, they can put us on an ice floe and send us out to sea.
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