A state fined a nursing home $75,000 in the case of
an elderly man whose death was reported for months as a heart attack –
although he really choked on a tuna sandwich.
State documents show that the nursing home
initially claimed the victim died of a heart attack and did not
disclose the sandwich incident until three months later – after the
coroner concluded the resident choked to death. The victim was supposed
to receive only pureed foods.
An attorney for the
skilled nursing center said the facility launched a second
investigation after the autopsy and only then learned that the resident
had grabbed a sandwich from a food tray.
"Apparently there was
one person who had information who we were unaware of," she said. The center is appealing the fine.
to state documents, the resident, suffering from dementia, had two
choking incidents on the night of his death, Sept. 9, 2008. In the
first incident, the patient was inadvertently given the wrong diet,
although he had a history of swallowing problems. Later that evening,
the victim was left near a food cart, where he grabbed the sandwich and
began to eat.
He died within an hour. State papers say staff at
the nursing center did not try to clear his throat, check him for
aspiration or provide emergency treatment. Please see the complete story.
This is a tragic incident and one that could have and should have been prevented. The nursing home was aware of the resident's dietary restrictions and violated its own policies. Furthermore, it stood by and allowed him to choke to death without rendering aid, presumably because it appeared to be a heart attack. This shows an utter lack of medical training on the part of the staff that was present that day.
Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is
dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing
home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke,
Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia.
Posted on Mon, March 16, 2009
by Robert Carter