We reached a settlement on behalf of a nursing home resident who choked to death on a hot dog after she was improperly upgraded to a general diet from a pureed diet and the staff failed to properly cut the hot dog into small enough pieces to be safely eaten by her.
We represented the estate of a nursing home resident who was admitted after she suffered from the effects of first smoke inhalation and then pneumonia after her home caught fire. She was placed on a pureed diet to help combat weight loss. With the switch to a pureed diet and the use of an apetite stimulant, she began to regain weight and asked the nursing staff for “real food”. The staff called the resident’s doctor who authorized the change to a general diet if it was okay with speech therapy. When the speech therapist arrived at the facility that day, the staff asked if what he thought about switching the resident to a general diet, and he responded that it would be fine with him. No formal swallow evaluation was done, nor was there any care planning for her diet done, although the speech therapist was aware that the resident had difficulty handling multi-textured foods.
On the day of her injury, the resident was being fed a chili dog at a “feeder table” where the residents have their food prepared and ar closely monitored by the nursing home staff. During the meal, the resident began to choke. She was removed to her room where the Heimlich maneuver was performed a number of times resulting in small pieces of hot dog being expelled. When the paramedics arrived, she was taken to the ambulance on a stretcher where an inch and a half long piece of hot dog was removed from her windpipe with forceps. The paramedics testified that there no evidence that the piece of hot dog had been bitten.
Suit against the nursing home alleged (1) that the order for the diet change was not properly effectuated, (2) there was no care planning done for known difficulties the resident had with multi-textured foods, (3) that the hot dog was not properly prepared in that it should have been cut into sections no larger than a half inch, according to the testimony of the staff, and (4) that the staff failed to take the steps needed to timely clear the airway.
Suit against the speech therapist alleged that he failed to perform a swallow evaluation to determine whether she was in fact suitable for an upgrade in diet to a general diet and that he failed to alert the staff to her known difficulties with multi-textured foods which would have resulted in care planning for the resident to be served no multi-textured foods like the chili dog she was served the day of the choking accident.
Awarded: $310,000 settlement