A resident at the Dearborn Court in Kanakee, Illinois narrowly survived a choking incident brought on by a failure to follow a resident’s diet plan. The situation was further compounded by a failure to take appropriate action by the Dearborn Court staff. There were two major errors made by the nursing home staff member on duty. Either one could easily have resulted in the wrongful death of the patient.
The resident in question is a 54-year-old man with advanced multiple sclerosis and dysphagia. Dysphagia is a condition that makes it difficult to swallow. The degree of the condition varies depending on how far the condition has progressed.
The trouble started shortly after the resident’s breakfast. According to a report by the aide, the man began to vomit immediately after his soft diet meal. The physician’s orders specifically called for no straws to be included in any meal.
The aide on duty followed the man to the facility bathroom, and, after the man was sick, offered him a drink of water from a cup with a straw. That was the first error. There are reasons why straws are not used by residents with difficulty swallowing. A straw immediately transfers a large amount of water to the back of the throat. A person suffering with dysphagia needs to be able to carefully regulate the amount of fluid he or she is intending to swallow. Of course, the resident began to choke.
That’s when the second big mistake happened.
Instead of calling 911 to report a medical emergency, the staff member called her supervisor to ask for permission to notify 911. It is never acceptable to delay contact emergency services for any reason.
The first mistake, providing the straw in a drink, might be a sign of a legitimate accident rather than a poorly trained staff. It wasn’t part of a set meal or snack, and the staff member might perform the same action dozens of times each day.
The second mistake, however, is much more troubling. Only poor staff training could account for a member calling for permission to notify emergency services.
Poor or inadequate training is one of the primary reasons why many incidents of nursing home neglect happen. Bed sores, nursing home falls, and medication errors can often be attributed to poor training. As a Chicago nursing home lawyer, one of the first things I do when investigating a case of nursing home neglect is to establish the level of training the individual staff members have undertaken before being trusted to resident care.