When one nursing home resident passes away for an unexpected but preventable reason, it is called an accident. When four residents suffer that same fate in the short span of three months, it is indicative of a troubling pattern of nursing home neglect.
That is what has happened recently in Connecticut, where four nursing home patients have died as a result of choking on food. All four fatalities occurred within three months, and were undeniably the result of nursing home neglect on the part of facility staff. It is not yet known whether any of the families of the deceased residents plan to file personal injury lawsuits against the facilities.
The first fatality took place in February, when a patient on a highly restricted diet was left unattended and choked to death on a peanut butter sandwich. The second took place the following month, when an elderly woman choked on marshmallows.
In April, a patient with a history of choking incidents and intellectual disabilities choked to death on takeout pasta and meatballs. The resident was on a soft-food diet at the time of the incident. Later that month, another patient who had been on a soft-food diet also choked when a nursing assistant failed to read the meal instructions and gave the resident pieces of ham and a hard cookie.
Although none of the deceased residents lived at the same nursing home, the tragic series of fatalities has prompted calls for additional staff training on choking prevention. Nursing home officials say that they do not generally instruct nursing assistants on dietary restrictions because that is part of their certification training. Following the fatalities, however, that information will hopefully become part of the new hire education process at nursing homes across the country.
If your parent or loved one has been injured as the result of nursing home abuse or neglect, please contact Breslin & Breslin for a free consultation.
Source: Hartford Courant, "4th Choking Deaths Reported At State Nursing Homes In 3 Months," Josh Kovner, July 31, 2012
At our Bergen County personal injury law firm, we help clients who have been injured in situations like those discussed above. For more information, please see our nursing home negligence page.