IDPH has cited and fined Warren Barr North Shore nursing home in Highland Park after a resident there choked.
Broadly speaking, we all are at some risk of choking, but when it comes to nursing home residents, there are two basic categories of residents who are increased risk of experiencing nursing home choking accidents. One category is residents with chewing or swallowing difficulties due to some physical issue. These residents are usually assessed by a speech therapist, receive a recommendation and an order for a mechanically altered diet to reduce choking risk, and are supervised while eating at a so-called “feeder table” in the dining room. The other category of resident who has a behavioral issue, typically relating to the consequences of stroke, brain injury, or some form of psychological disorder, which causes them to eat in an unsafe manner. These residents require close supervision while eating because of their lack of control over their own behavior.
The resident involved in this fatal choking accident fell into the second category. He was only 46 years old and suffered from frontotemporal dementia which led to a lack of control in eating. He would shove food in his mouth without chewing, would take food off other resident’s trays, and overeat to the point of vomiting. According to his Minimum Data Set, he required the supervision with one person assist while eating.
On the day of the incident, a nurse brought the resident’s tray into his room. The resident was seated upright on his bed, eating and watching television. She left the room to attend to other resident’s but did not take his tray with her. When she returned about 15 minutes later, he was unconscious, blue in color, and unresponsive. When they tried to revive him, they found his mouth stuffed with food. He was pronounced shortly thereafter.
This was a highly preventable death. All that was needed to stop this from happening was to provide this resident with the supervision that everyone knew that he needed. Instead, the nurse left him alone with his tray while she went to do other things. Had the tray been taken away or someone else found to supervise this resident, this death would not have occurred.
The real question of course is why did the nurse leave the resident unattended? The answer probably relates to understaffing of the nursing home which is a deliberate feature of the nursing home business model. 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.
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