State Wants to Know How Developmentally Disabled Man Was Able to Die From Drinking Laundry Detergent

It took nearly two weeks for the laundry detergent to kill him. Now, Department of Social and Health Services investigators are trying to figure out how a 30-year-old developmentally disabled man in an assisted-living home was able to get access to the soap in the first place, much less drink it.

According information from DSHS spokesperson Kathy Spears, the man had recently been moved from a nursing home at Frances Haddon Morgan Center in Bremerton to a community living location in Pierce County, where he was cared for through a program called Educational Programs for Home Living.

On Oct. 3, management for the support-living community found that the man had ingested a large amount of laundry detergent. He was taken to a hospital and treated the next day, eventually being discharged on Oct. 15.

But a day after his release the man's breathing became troubled, and he was taken back to the hospital.

He died the next day.

Among the questions DSHS is trying to answer are: How did the man have access to the detergent? And were all the proper steps taken to treat him?

DSHS Secretary Susan Dreyfus was quick to argue that the incident shouldn't alarm anyone, saying in a statement:

"This gentleman's tragic death should in no way cause Washington residents to lose confidence in the transition from state institutions to home and community-based care," Dreyfus said. "We have an excellent record of helping people live safely and successfully in a community setting closer to their homes and families."

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