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Dementia Patient Chokes To Death On Ketchup Packet In Nursing Home

Glenwood Gardens, a California retirement community was fined $100,000 by the California Department of Public Health following the death a resident who choked to death on a ketchup packet in 2006.  The 84-year-old man lived at the facilities skilled nursing facility because he suffered from dementia and had breathing difficulties.  The ketchup packet was wedged in the back of the man’s throat by a mortuary embalmer.  Investigators determined the staff at the facility were aware of the man’s propensity to eat non-edible objects and failed to formulate a plan to prevent the man from ingesting the ketchup packet. 

What makes this incident particularly inexcusable is that it occurred at a facility that concentrates iniStock_000002068444XSmall providing skilled nursing care to Alzheimer’s and dementia patients.  It is a common problem for Alzheimer’s Had the facility taken the basic precaution of removing non-edible objects from the residents meal tray this incident would likely not have occurred.  Moreover, had the staff properly monitored this man as he ate, the choking should have been caught and the ketchup packet removed from the man’s throat.

Glenwood Gardens is part of Brookdale Senior Living communities.  Brookdale is the largest owner and operator of senior living communities in the United States.  Brookdale owns more than 550 senior living and retirement communities and houses more than 50,000 residents.  There are many Brookdale facilities throughout Illinois.

Learn more about the laws applicable to California nursing homes here.
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