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Nursing home fined after resident's choking death

In a nursing home, it is easy for staff to overlook the younger, healthier patients for those with more severe health problems that require more time and effort. However, it is important to for aides and medical professionals to keep track of all of the residents' needs, no matter how minor they may seem.

A California nursing home has learned this hard lesson. Recently, the home was fined $100,000 by the state department of public health for nursing home neglect after a 60-year-old male resident died as a result of an employee's failure to abide by a doctor-prescribed meal program.

In December of 2008, the resident was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. One of the side effects of the disease was that the resident experienced difficulty chewing his food. Therefore, his doctor informed the nursing home that he was to be given a diet of soft food in order to avoid a choking hazard.

In April of 2009, the nursing home activities director had planned a candlelight dinner for residents, to which she brought pork chops that she had prepared at her home. Not realizing that the resident had dietary restrictions, the director served him a pork chop, upon which he choked. He was brought to a local hospital where he died four days later.

According to the public health investigation, the nursing home failed to provide the resident with his prescribed therapeutic, and therefore was ultimately responsible for his death. It is unknown whether the home or the director will face criminal charges.

A nursing home injury or death can occur purposely or accidentally, as a result of intentional nursing home abuse or merely (but equally harmful) neglect. If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of nursing home neglect or abuse, please contact Breslin & Breslin for a free consultation.

Source: Santa Monica Daily Press, "State fines convalescent home for death of resident", 17 February 2011

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