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A Chicago nursing home was fined $27,500 after a resident committed suicide by overdosing on medications. The resident, suffering from cancer, had attempted suicide once before by overdosing on medication before his admission to the nursing home and had told staff members after his admission that he intended to kill himself.

IDPH found that the nursing home failed to carry out a proper plan for suicide prevention. The nurse on duty at the time of the overdose told investigators that she was not aware of his history of trying to kill himself.

Nursing homes have an obligation to assess each resident on admission and to develop a care plan to prevent injury to the resident, even if that injury is self-inflicted. In order to do this, all of the members of the staff must be made aware of special precautions that have been taken for residents under their care.

The resident in this case was a suicide risk based on his history of having tried it before and based on his stated intention to try again. Nonetheless, the nursing home afforded this man the means (a large quantity of morphine tablets) and the opportunity (lack of supervision by knowledgeable staff) to attempt suicide once again.

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