A Wicker Park nursing home recently settled a case involving a resident’s choking death, one that allegedly occurred because medical staff failed to follow doctor’s orders or provide adequate supervision, for a reported $875,000.00.
Doctor’s Orders Not Followed
On November 9, 2012, a nursing assistant brought Antonio Mares, a resident at the Center for Hispanic Elderly, a tray of food. Mr. Mares’s doctor had prescribed a diet of “mechanical-soft food” because he suffered from medical complications that increased his likelihood of choking. His doctor also ordered that he was only to be fed under the supervision of a nurse or nursing assistant.
Neither of these directives was followed at the time of the incident. A certified nursing assistant brought Mr. Mares a tray of food that was not “mechanical-soft,” in keeping with his dietary restrictions. Furthermore, the certified nursing assistant left him to eat without any supervision. As a result of the nursing assistant allegedly failing to follow these orders, Mr. Mares began to choke during his meal.
Mr. Mares reportedly attempted to contact the staff for help by using the call button, but there was apparently no response or any knowledge of his distress until the nursing assistant returned to his room.
In an attempt to save Mr. Mares’s life, the nursing assistant tried to perform the Heimlich maneuver, a first aid procedure used to treat choking by foreign objects. The lawsuit alleges that the CNA did not perform the action correctly, however, and failed to dislodge the food from the man’s throat. Despite further attempts at emergency maneuvers, Mr. Mares died shortly thereafter.
Choking Deaths in American Nursing Homes
Due to increasing longevity, an estimated 1.4 million Americans are currently living in approximately 15,000 nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Many of the seniors in these facilities have chronic illnesses or medical problems that make it difficult to eat and swallow food, placing them at high risk for choking. If left unattended or unassisted, a choking resident can suffer severe injuries, including brain damage and even death.
Knowing this to be the case, nursing facilities have a heightened responsibility to implement a choking prevention program for their residents. While each incident of choking in a nursing facility is unique, there are some common causes. Typically, chokings occur when patients receive the wrong kind of food, even though they have special dietary needs. Patients also choke when they are not being monitored by the staff while they are eating. Such neglect is often a sign of an understaffed, improperly trained nursing facility. All of these factors, the family’s lawsuit alleged, may have played a part in Mr. Mares’s tragic demise.
Understaffed and Undertrained
The family’s attorneys argued both that the Center for Hispanic Elderly was systemically understaffed and that what staff it had was inadequately trained, reports of which had been lodged against the facility in the past. The certified nursing assistant, for example, was unable to perform the Heimlich maneuver, a basic lifesaving technique, even though she was left in charge of a patient known to have been at high risk for choking.
As the lawsuit further argued, because Mr. Mares had a higher likelihood of choking, the standard protocol would have dictated that he should not eat without supervision, something that his doctor had specifically ordered and yet which still was not done. Additionally, Mr. Mares was not given the correct type of food for his condition, but rather the opposite of what a patient with a high risk for choking should have eaten.
Finally, as a result of an understaffed facility, Mr. Mares was left to try to save himself when he was choking, something that the lawsuit alleged would likely not have happened had he been given adequate attention. Ultimately, the lawsuit argued, Mr. Mares was the victim of an understaffed and undertrained nursing home facility, one whose neglect may have hastened his death.
In light of the above arguments, the Center for Hispanic Elderly agreed to settle the family’s wrongful death lawsuit for $875,000.00.
Nursing Home Neglect Lawyers
For more than thirty years, GWC Injury Lawyers’s Chicago nursing home neglect lawyers have been helping to fight for the rights of injury victims in Illinois. They are not intimidated by the insurance companies that often represent many nursing homes. Our firm is well known by many insurance agencies and has a hard-won reputation of fighting for the MAXIMUM amount of compensation for our clients.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of nursing home neglect, contact our office today to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys to see if you may be eligible for financial compensation. Call GWC at (312) 464-1234 or click here to chat with one of our representatives.