The family of professional wrestler George Dahmer, known to fans as Chief White Owl, recently received $2 million in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Senior abuse lawyers at Pintas & Mullins affirm that the jury found that Lake Worth Nursing Home was failed to properly care for the aging wrestler, which directly led to his death.
His daughter, Debbie Dahmer, stated that the family is also seeking to reform nursing home laws and penalties, hoping to name the stricter regulations“Chief White Owl’s Laws.” Dahmer died at a Florida hospital in May 2008 after spending only two months at Lake Worth Manor, which is now Oasis Health.
Dahmer suffered from dementia and entered the nursing facility in February 2008. In the ensuing months his health rapidly deteriorated, according to statements made by his wife and son. He became severely dehydrated, and lost the ability to walk and communicate effectively. In one incident, nursing home staff lost his false teeth and failed to ever replace them. Staff also failed to adequately monitor and regulate his medication, rendering Dahmer severely overmedicating and almost completely immobile.
Within 60 days of being admitted, Dahmer lost 30 pounds. He developed extreme bedsores on his heels and tailbone, which eventually spread by inattentive care and exposed the bone. Upon seeing this, his wife demanded he be transferred to an Alzheimer’s facility in April 2008. One month later, he was admitted to JFK Medical Center, and died on May 16, 2008, at age 72.
Doctors at JFK were unable to treat the extensive injuries he received at Lake Worth. He was too weak to receive a feeding tube, and doctors were considering amputating his feet completely, as the pressure ulcers had worn through his skin to the bone.
During trial, it was revealed that Lake Worth Manor was significantly understaffed, and that the owners’ behavior caused problems with staff morale. Employees were overworked, and could not, or did not want to perform jobs properly.
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Now, with Chief White Owl’s Laws, his family is attempting to send a public message about substandard nursing home care. Dahmer exhibited several common signs of nursing home abuse and neglect before his death: dehydration, bedsores, and overmedication. Sadly, his case is indicative of a larger problem affecting nursing homes throughout the United States. Substandard, deficient levels of care are more often than not the result of understaffing.
Lake Worth Enterprises, like so many other firms that own nursing homes, placed profits before patients in choosing to not hire enough staff to care for residents. Overworked staff often turns to medication to subdue patients or to render them virtually motionless so they do not have to constantly monitor or care for them. Like Dahmer, many nursing home residents suffer from cognitive disorders, and cannot remember to feed, hydrate, or clean themselves on their own. If this is the case, it is clearly noted in the pre-determined care plans for that resident, so nurses know to make sure that person is eating, drinking, and bathing regularly.
The first signs of abuse Dahmer’s family noted were dehydration and extreme weight loss. Unless the resident is actively and consciously refusing to eat or drink, any noticeable weight loss or dehydration is a major red flag that abuse or neglect is occurring. Bedsores of any degree are also a major red flag. Patients who remain in one position long enough to develop pressure ulcers – especially so significant it starts to show bone or muscle- are not receiving adequate care. They are being left to sit, lay or stand in one position for hours at a time without being checked on.
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Elder abuse and neglect lawyers at Pintas & Mullins highlight Dahmer’s story to urge anyone with a loved one in a nursing home to check for these signs of inadequate care. The Dahmer family received $2 million in damages. If you or a family member was seriously injured due to employee abuse or negligence, you may be entitled to compensation through a nursing home lawsuit.