Hidden Scabies Outbreak Contributed to Three Deaths, Report Finds; Employees Hit with Criminal Charges

February 9, 2018 | Aging Services Risk, Quality, & Safety Guidance

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​Oregon state officials say a scabies outbreak in a privately owned care home contributed to three patient deaths, according to a February 3, 2018 article published in The Register-Guard, an Oregon daily newspaper. Investigators from the state's Aging and People with Disabilities program in the Department of Human Services, who led the investigation, found the care home had been hiding scabies outbreaks for years, according to the article. The article tells how the family of an 83-year-old resident discovered her advanced scabies infection when she went to the emergency room after a fall. A hospital nurse discovered the patient's condition, and the woman was transferred to a burn unit for further treatment, but later died from complications to which the scabies infection contributed. Employees of the care home, who also suffered from the scabies outbreak, told investigators the facility kept anti-scabies cream meant for residents in a locked desk drawer for staff use, and others claimed they were told to use anti-fungal cream, which is an ineffective treatment against scabies. The report also showed some residents lost weight as a result of the outbreak, because scabies can cause difficulty sleeping or can cause loss of appetite. Staff offered residents a beverage made of protein powder, Crisco shortening, pudding mix, and whole milk to help patients gain weight, but one resident who died during the investigation and is identified by the report as a victim of the scabies outbreak weighed just 95 pounds.

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