I’m going to write about various real life scenarios that I’ve been involved in while working with people having developmental disabilities. I believe it’s important that the community at large understands just how broken the system of care these folks live in really is.
In my last job, I worked with folks with profound disabilities in a day program. One of our guys broke his leg and was in the hospital. It was a serious break of his thigh bone. Now, this fellow was completely unable to bare weight with his legs in the first place, and used a wheelchair at all times when not in bed. He is also unable to get out of his wheelchair and needs people to lift him out of it when needed.
How did he break his leg? No one knew is what I was told. I believe he would have had to been dropped during a transfer. That’s the only logical explanation there is. I know it didn’t happen while he was with us, as we always used three people to lift him the one time we needed to each day. Therefore; it had to happen at his group home where he was the other 19 hours of the day (along with weekends). I guess there was no way to prove how or where it happened, and this guy is not able to speak. He has very little communication ability in general.
During the time he was away from our program, we had to do Medication/Side Effect updates for all our folks. I was assigned to gather the information for him, so I called his group home. They faxed me over a current list of medications he was on. The first page of what they sent me listed allergies. It said he was allergic to Codeine and Acetomenaphine. On his list of medications was Hydrocodone for pain and swelling associated with his broken leg. I was taken back! I believed Hydrocodone was a combination of Acetomenaphine and Codeine.
First I called his house and spoke with the manager. He told me he was unaware if this man was allergic to the drug or not. The assistant manager asked the agency’s nurse who also didn’t know. They agreed not to give him more until they knew for certain. I then called my supervisor to fill her in on what I discovered. She agreed with me that this was bad and asked me to write an Incident Report. I wrote the Incident Report with all the information in it and sent it over to our office.
That was the last day of work for me before I took a week long vacation. When I returned I was informed that Hydrocodone contains a synthetic form of Codeine, so there should be no harmful allergic reaction. My question was; “What about the Acetomenaphine in Hydrocodone?” I was told that he was no longer being given the drug, and my question went unanswered. I don’t know if the Incident Report ever went into his file, but I never saw it again, which was not standard procedure. The manager of the group home left quite suddenly following this debacle. No one said why.