We reached a settlement on behalf of a nursing home resident who choked to death.
The resident was a long term resident of the defendant nursing home due to severe mental illness. She was at risk for choking because her teeth were in such poor condition that she required a mechanical soft diet and because her mental illness resulted in compulsive behaviors such as stuffing her mouth full while eating. Approximately a month and a half before the final choking incident, she choked on a meatball badly enough that the staff had to do the Heimlich on her.
Despite her choking risk and the fact that she had already demonstrated a propensity to choke, there was no care planning done to address her choking risk.
On the day that she choked last, she was brought to the nurse’s station at 8:30 p.m. coughing and gagging. The staff apparently did not recognize that she was choking until she collapsed. No one was able to determine what she choked on or how she obtained the items that she choked on. 911 was called and once paramedics arrived, they continued to remove additional food from her airway, meaning that the staff failed to do so.
She was brought to the hospital where they determined that she had extensive brain damage due to oxygen deprivation. She lived another three days before dying.