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State investigating death of developmentally disabled man who drank laundry detergent

Post by Stacia Glenn / The News Tribune on Oct. 17, 2011 at 7:54 pm with No Comments »
October 17, 2011 7:54 pm

The state has launched an investigation after a 30-year-old developmentally disabled Pierce County man receiving assisted-living services died Sunday, nearly two weeks after drinking liquid laundry detergent.

The Department of Social and Health Services said it is trying to determine how the man, who was not identified, gained access to the detergent Oct. 3.

“Things do happen,” DSHS spokesman Thomas Shapley said. “But we’re going to take a look at their practices and procedures to make everything was done properly.”

The man had been living in the Frances Haddon Morgan Center in Bremerton until March. He then transitioned to community living in Pierce County.

Employees with Educational Programs for Home Living, a Tacoma-based nonprofit organization that provides home care for the developmentally disabled, were looking after the man. He lived alone.

The group provides supported-living services for about 60 people in Pierce and Kitsap counties.

Employees discovered Oct. 3 that the man had ingested detergent and immediately called the Poison Control Center to get advice on how to care for him.

They took him to the hospital the following day because he was having trouble breathing.

The man was released from the hospital Saturday and again had difficulty breathing, according to DSHS. He was admitted to the emergency room Sunday, where he died.

DSHS Secretary Susan Dreyfus said she is heartsick for the man and his family.

“We will do all we can to be certain what happened and why,” she said in a written statement, adding that DSHS will share the results of the investigation with everyone caring for the developmentally disabled.

“At the very least, we can learn from a tragic event like this and make changes in the system. But I can’t promise that it will never happen again,” Dreyfus said.

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