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Lawsuit Blames Nurse For Delay In Providing Assistance For Choking Patient

suction machineA recently filed nursing home lawsuit alleges that the delay in providing treatment for a coking resident resulted in her death.  The suit files by the family of the deceased nursing home patient, claims that a nurse and other staff members at the Johnson Mathers Nursing Home were negligent in the the way they responded to a situation where there loved one was obviously choking.

According to both state inspection reports and news reports regarding the incident, the patient had swallowing problems which resulted in staff giving her a diet of pureed food.  It was during the feeding process that the patient began to choke on the pureed food.

However, upon hearing a ‘gurgling’ sound from the patient— a clear indication of her choking– the nurse elected to clean a dirty suction machine as opposed to summoning a clean suction machine from an available on a nearby ‘crash cart’ at the facility.

A remarkable 15-20 minutes were apparently spent cleaning the dirty machine as the nursing home patient laid in her bed— choking.  Further, during the choking situation, the nurse failed to notify other staff at the facility because she assumed that the patient was dead.

Currently, the nurse’s license is under investigation.

Situations such as this, highlight the need for nursing home staff to provide extra care while feeding patients with swallowing difficulties.  Patients with swallowing difficulties typically require extra encouragement and patience on the staff’s end in order to safely consume their meals.

Given the fact that some patients with swallowing difficulties have problems with the muscles that control the swallowing process and may have diminished sensory perception, it is also important that staff who provide care have proper training about how to clear an airway when a patient begins choking.

Certainly, in the case of this Kentucky nursing home, it appears as though the nurse involved exercised some horrible judgment.  However, I would be curious as to the the training Johnson Mathers provided staff feeding patients who have swallowing difficulties as well as how many patients this nurse was responsible for caring for during this time period?

For laws related to Kentucky nursing homes, look here.


Failure to Follow Orders Results In Death Of Patient & Hefty Fine

Lawsuit filed against nursing home where resident choked to death, by Valerie Honeycutt Spears, June 11, 2011

Elderly Patients Are At Higher Risk For Developing Aspiration Pneumonia When Facilities Fail To Account For Patient Needs

Dysphagia In Nursing Home Patients May Contribute To Medical Complications Such As: Choking, Pneumonia Or Death

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