Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive

Friday, April 14, 2000


Attorney General gets $200,000 in Tyler nursing home case

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn today announced a record $200,000 settlement in a nursing home civil penalty case. The settlement against Melrose Nursing Center in Tyler, resulted from a Texas Department of Human Services (TDHS) investigation revealing numerous violations of the Health and Safety Code. The violations resulted in the death of one resident.

"If you abuse and neglect the elderly, you will pay the price," Cornyn said. "I intend to continue my commitment of holding people accountable for their actions and enforcing high standards for those who are in the business of caring for others."

The July 1997 TDHS investigation found that a male resident died after choking to death. The investigation revealed that the resident had dysphagia or trouble swallowing and yet was allowed to eat solid foods, like large pieces of meat, when doctors' orders advised against it.

The TDHS investigation found that the resident began coughing and hitting himself in the chest during a meal. A certified nurse aide notified the charge nurse who responded that the resident was "just playing" and told the aide to give the resident water. The TDHS investigation noted that the resident continued to choke and put his hand in his mouth to try and remove what was lodged in this throat. At that time, the charge nurse approached the resident and knocked the resident's hand out of his mouth and told him "to stop playing."

Shortly thereafter the resident became pale and slumped over in his wheelchair. CPR was performed, but staff never performed the Heimlich maneuver. EMS was called and when paramedics arrived, they removed a piece of meat from the resident's mouth. Upon arriving at the hospital, the resident was diagnosed with respiratory failure and anoxic brain damage, among other things. The resident died a day after being admitted to the hospital.

This is the third major nursing home settlement the Attorney General has announced. Similar agreements were announced last year with the Arbors Living Centers in Beaumont and the Kenwood Nursing Home in Duncanville.

Since Attorney General Cornyn has been in office over $2 million in civil penalties has been collected in nursing home cases.

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Contact Mark Heckmann, Heather Browne, or Tom Kelley at (512) 463-2050