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Alden Court Denies Responsibility for Massachusetts Woman’s Death by Asphyxiation

Yet another sad story of a choking death by a nursing home resident has recently been made public. Kathryn Miller, an 88 year old woman who was temporarily staying at Alden Court Nursing Care & Rehabilitation Center in Fairhaven, Mass. while recovering from a successful hip surgery, choked on a clam, which triggered a seizure and lead to her death by asphyxiation.

Ms. Miller’s only child, Steven Miller, is suing the nursing home, alleging that they are at fault for failing to adhere to her dietary plan (which did not include clams), failing to monitor her and respond quickly while she was choking and for later covering up the identities of the 4 RNs that were working at the time of her death. Her son believes that it is one of the nurses that gave his mother an entire clam, which caused her to choke to death. In the lawsuit, Mr. Miller also notes that the cause of death listed on her death certificate is different than the cause told to him by the nursing home. Kathryn Miller’s cause of death is officially listed as ‘asphyxiation,’ while Alden Court argues that the cause of death was a seizure.

Differing Stories
In official records held by Alden Court, the nursing home wrote that Ms. Miller had finished eating 3 hours before a nurse found her seizing in her room and called EMTs. However, the EMTs who responded to the scene tell an entirely different story. According to their report, the nurse told them upon arrival that Ms. Miller was eating and talking and suddenly stopped responding before seizing. Also adding to the distress felt by Ms. Miller’s son is the fact that Alden Court denies serving clams at their facility, leading him to believe that a nurse fed his mother the clam on her own and is being protected by Alden Court in a coverup.

In response to the lawsuit by Ms. Miller’s son, Alden Court has said that they are not responsible for the seizure that caused Kathryn Miller’s death.

Choking Always a Hazard for Elderly
Choking, while sometimes unavoidable, should be addressed by taking preventative measures. One of the most important factors is creation of and strict adherence to a dietary plan for each resident. Maintaining an adequate number of staff to oversee and supervise meals is also essential for preventing choking in nursing homes. Simply put, in many cases choking can be prevented and it is the duty of nursing home staff to ensure that it does not happen.

The experienced nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys of Levin & Perconti have recovered millions for victims of nursing home abuse and neglect, including those who have suffered serious injuries and even death from choking. If you have a loved one who has faced a similar situation, please call our Illinois attorneys toll-free at 1-877-374-1417 (or 312-332-2872) or click here to access our online consultation request form to see what legal rights you have. Consultations are free and confidential.


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