Four Connecticut nursing home residents have died due to choking between February and April, 2012. The last case occurred on April 18, 2012, when a resident who suffered from dementia and needed to be carefully watched while she was eating, was seated in a wheelchair in the nursing home’s dining room when she was observed by a nurse’s aide coughing and choking. She was wheeled into another area of the nursing home where attempts to clear her airway were unsuccessful. She died before emergency medical staff arrived on the scene.
The resident was supposed to be on a soft food only diet. Despite the precautionary diet, her meal at the time of her choking death included ham that was cut into half-inch pieces, cooked diced carrots, potatoes, and a hard cookie. The nurse’s aide was unaware of the resident’s soft food only restriction and the dietary aide who served the resident the meal thought that the ham was soft enough for the resident.
Both the nurse’s aide and the dietary aide were fired after the incident. The nursing home was fined $615 by the state and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) imposed a $10,000 civil penalty against the nursing home. The nursing home was also required to file a plan of corrective action which included the following: that all staff are required to review residents’ meal plans before feeding them, meal tickets for residents are color-coded, the staff are trained to make sure that residents do not receive the wrong meals, a system is in place to make sure that dietary staff are aware of any changes in diet for residents, and a system is in place to make sure that the meal trays for residents are properly labeled before they are provided to residents.
It is imperative that nursing homes timely determine the appropriate diets for each of their residents. Once the diet restrictions are established, it is critical for the nursing home staff to insure that all meals provided to all residents are in full compliance with the diet plans established for each resident.
It is also important that residents be re-evaluated at all appropriate times when changes in diet may be necessary. Once the changes are made, it is essential that the changes are properly noted in the residents’ records and that staff review the residents’ records and orders for any change in dietary restrictions.
Because each nursing home resident is fed and provided fluids multiple times each day, the nursing home staff may become complacent in ensuring that the requirements with regard to each resident is followed each time. Nursing homes are notorious for attempting to cut corners in order to increase their profits by providing fewer staff members to provide necessary care to residents that must be based on the number of residents and the required level of their care. When nursing homes fail to provide the necessary level of staff during all shifts, injuries (or worse) can happen and residents may suffer terrible consequences when their care is insufficient or delayed.
If you or a loved one suffered injuries or other losses while a resident of a nursing home, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Many medical malpractice attorneys also handle claims against nursing homes when residents are seriously injured as result of negligent nursing home care or nursing home abuse.
Click here to visit our website or call us toll-free at 800-295-3959 to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in your state who may be able to investigate your possible nursing home claim for you and represent you in a claim against a nursing home, if appropriate.
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