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Dr. Heimlich Saves Elderly Choking Victim Just Months Before His Death

Dr. Henry Heimlich, inventor of the Heimlich Maneuver, died from a heart attack at age 96 on December 17th in Cincinnati. In 1974, Heimlich told The Journal of The American Medical Association (JAMA) about a method of applying subdiaphragmatic pressure to expel food or other items that had become stuck in a person’s air passage. Heimlich told NPR that several months later JAMA called him to say they wanted to rename it to the Heimlich Maneuver because so many lives had been saved by the method.

Heimlich Puts His Method to the Test
In May 2016, just 7 months before his death, Dr. Heimlich sat down for dinner at the Cincinnati assisted living facility that he called home. Just as he began to eat, a fellow resident started choking. Heimlich, at the age of 96, hopped up and used his famous maneuver to save the patient’s life.

Choking A Risk for All Ages
As all parents know, choking is a top concern with infants and toddlers. The American Heart Association includes the Heimlich Maneuver in all of its CPR-based courses, with training on how to perform the maneuver on patients from a day old all the way to the elderly. It is also considered standard for all healthcare workers who come in contact with patients to be trained and certified in CPR & the Heimlich Maneuver. However, knowing the Heimlich maneuver is just as beneficial to those with children as it is to those who spend time with the elderly.

In a March post, Levin & Perconti discussed a lawsuit against a nursing facility in Glenview, IL that alleged a woman was not properly supervised while eating and taking medication and choked. She later died from injuries related to the choking incident.

Over Half of All Choking Deaths Happen to Elderly
Dr. Heimlich’s eponymous maneuver gained popularity because it was in demand and it worked. The National Safety Council says that 2,848 of the 5,051 choking deaths in 2015 were in patients over the age of 74. With over half of all choking deaths attributed to the elderly, vigilance and proper training of nursing home staff are of the utmost importance.

If you or a loved one have experienced a choking incident that resulted in injury or death at a nursing home, the attorneys at Levin & Perconti have a proven track record of success in handling choking lawsuits, as well as all other forms of nursing home abuse and neglect. Please contact us for a free consultation.


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