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Nursing Home Choking Death Leads to Verdict for Plaintiff

The Macomb Daily reported last week on the end of a new nursing home abuse lawsuit following the death of a resident from a choking accident. According to reports, that estate of the victim was awarded $2.35 million after a jury found the involved nursing facility negligent in allowing the man to choke to death when he was eating at the home. The 56-year old victim was eating at the dining hall in the negligent nursing home eating lunch when the accident struck. The man was wheelchair bound, had type I diabetes, and was in the early stages of dementia. He had suffered a stroke-like condition which necessitated his time in the facility.

When eating lunch, the man had a large, golf ball sized meatball. It was clear that the resident should never have had the food item, because his condition gave him swallowing problems. When he tried to eat it, the meatball became clogged in his throat. He soon became unable to breathe. A single staff member was in the nursing home dining room at the time. The employee did not know the Heimlich maneuver. Therefore, instead of providing life-saving treatment right away, she wheeled the man over 40 feet to a nurse’s station. The movement of the chair only made things worse, forcing the stuck food object deeper into his throat.

A nurse eventually came upon the victim and unsuccessfully tried to dislodge the object. The team then tried to use an “ambu bag” to force air into the man’s lungs. Yet, it was later explained that this action may actually have exacerbated the problem. It wasn’t until 12 minutes later that 911 was called. By the time EMS officials arrived, the workers found few life indicators. The meatball was removed with forceps, but the man had oxygen deprived for too long. He was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

Our Chicago nursing home lawyers have worked with local victims in this exact situation. Illinois nursing home choking accidents occur far too frequently in our area, taking the life of residents that should have been prevented. For example, just last year we reported on our involvement in the settlement of two different Illinois nursing home neglect lawsuits. In both cases, the victims were given the incorrect food and were not properly monitored, leading to their passing.

One of the victims died at the Glenshire Nursing Home in Richton Park. The 47-year old man was in the facility for rehab purposes and was expected to be released in a few weeks. He had recently had a few teeth extracted and was put on a soft foods diet by his doctor. However, ignoring orders, he was given a hot dog and left alone. He was eventually unable to properly swallow the item, it became lodged in his throat, and he died. In the second case, the seventy-six year old victim was a resident of the Hickory Nursing Pavilion in Hickory Hills. He was eating dinner in the facility’s dining room when he began choking. The man-who had suffered a brain injury in a car accident years earlier-was supposed to be on a pureed diet. However, he was given solid foods instead, leading to the choking and death.

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