IDPH has cited and fined Winston Manor nursing home in Chicago after a resident there choked to death on a peanut butter sandwich.
One of the frightening possibilities that families face when they admit a loved one to a nursing home is that they could be the victim of a nursing home choking accident. Some nursing home residents suffer from dysphagia which is a swallow dysfunction. At times this is the result of a stroke, other neuromuscular condition, advanced dementia, or just generalized weakness. When a swallow dysfunction is present, the resident is at increased risk for choking. Customarily, this risk is addressed through a modified diet given per physician orders, treatment with a speech therapist, and through the care planning process.
The resident here was someone who was known to at risk for choking. In fact, this resident had experienced a choking incident about a year before the choking incident at issue and had also been admitted to the hospital for aspiration pneumonia. Aspiration pneumonia occurs when someone inhales a foreign substance whether it is food or a fluid into the lungs with an infection being the net result. The fact that this resident had this history demonstrated that he was at risk for choking.
The resident’s choking risk was addressed in the care plan where it called for the resident to receive extensive assistance while eating. Facility policies further called for residents who are at risk for choking to be monitored during meals.
On the day of the incident the resident was passed a peanut butter sandwich by one of the aides who then left him unattended. Shortly thereafter, the resident approached a staff member holding his hands to his throat, obviously choking. The staff member did the Heimlich. 911 was called and the resident was brought to the hospital where a large quantity of peanut butter was suctioned from his airway in the emergency room. He required intubation and was hospitalized for two weeks thereafter.
This was a very preventable accident which could have easily resulted in the death of this resident. The resident was a known choking risk, yet the staff handed him a peanut butter sandwich (something that is not always easy to swallow) and then left him unattended. The resident clearly had difficulty swallowing this given the large amount of peanut butter that was suctioned from his airway. Simply monitoring him as called for in the facility policies would likely have averted this choking incident from reaching the point where hospitalization was required.
One of our core beliefs is that nursing homes are built to fail due to the business model they follow and that unnecessary accidental injuries and wrongful deaths of nursing home residents are the inevitable result. Order our FREE report, Built to Fail, to learn more about why. Our experienced Chicago nursing home lawyers are ready to help you understand what happened, why, and what your rights are. Contact us to get the help you need.
Other blog posts of interest: