The Dallas News reported the scary story of four residents at Avendelle Assisted Living home overdosed on opioids and alcohol after caregivers left the substances unsecured, according to a lawsuit filed by Texas Health and Human Services.  The agency, which oversees licensing and credentialing of assisted living facilities, is seeking penalties of up to $10,000 for each code violation.

Officials received two complaints in April 2018 that an ambulance had rushed four people, all of whom had difficulty breathing and “altered mental states,” to a hospital. The toxicology reports for the residents showed they had dangerously elevated levels of opiates and alcohol in their bodies despite not having been prescribed medications containing alcohol or opioids, the suit states.

The patients had been staying at an eight-bed Avendelle home on Royal Lane, where Health and Human Services said in the suit that medication was kept in an unsecured locker and a caregiver had a bottle of whiskey in an unlocked cabinet.

Days after the residents were hospitalized, agency records show inspectors cited Avendelle for policies that didn’t “address the prevention of the diversion of controlled drugs” and for failing to ensure residents had not been abused, exploited or neglected.

There needs to be additional regulations and standards for assisted living facilities, and a way to enforce them for the safety, health, and well-being of the vulnerable residents.