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Son Sues Nursing Home After Mother Dies Choking on Sandwich

A New York man has filed a nursing home negligence lawsuit against the facility where his mother died late last year after choking on a grilled cheese sandwich.

According to, the woman was just 63-years-old, yet suffered from dementia. For this reason, she had to wear dentures to bite and chew solid foods. Despite this, in December, the staffer fed her a sandwich during a meal at which she did not have her dentures in. Patient unsurprisingly choked on the sandwich, aspirated and stopped breathing. She was rushed to a nearby hospital, where she died a week later from complications caused by the choking and aspiration of her food.

The wrongful death lawsuit filed by her son, the administrator of her estate, alleges the nursing home staff was negligent, careless and reckless in feeding his mother solid food without her dentures. As a result, his mother suffered conscious pain and suffering, as well as incurred medical expenses. He is seeking compensation for these violations of her rights, as well as punitive damages and attorneys fees. 

The parent company of the nursing home has declined to comment, but insists that it adheres to safe practices.

Unfortunately, as our nursing home negligence attorneys know well, these types of incidents are not isolated. For many people living in nursing homes, chewing and swallowing food is a major difficulty. Nursing home administrators have a responsibility to be aware of this, to have a plan in place for how to ensure the resident is safe while getting the proper nutrition and to follow through with that plan – each and every time. Failure to do this greatly increases the risk of choking and even death.

Many elderly and disabled patients have difficulty swallowing, and these problems aren’t uniform. There are dozens of muscle groups and nerves that must cooperate when it comes to chewing and swallowing – and every patient is different. It is standard for patients who have trouble swallowing to be treated by a physician who then issues a care plan for feeding. That plan needs to be meticulously documented in the patient’s chart and made known to all caregivers who interact with the patient. Anytime a patient gets food or medication, staffers need to know upfront whether he or she has the ability to safely chew and swallow.

Nursing homes can be held liable even in cases where the patient fed himself or herself. That’s because it is the nursing home’s responsibility to properly monitor and ensure the patient doesn’t have unsupervised access to the kinds of foods or materials that could be harmful.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that between 2007 and 2010, there were 2,214 deaths among people over the age of 65 attributable to choking on food. The death rate for choking is far higher for the older cohort than for younger age groups. Most commonly, these deaths occurred with patients who had:

  • Dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease)
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Pneumonia

Nursing homes have a duty to conduct an oral assessment during admission, re-admission and as necessary.They need to know if the resident has teeth or missing teeth or no teeth or dentures or some other condition that might prevent them from eating normally.

If your loved one has suffered as a result of negligent nursing home care in West Palm Beach, we can help.

Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.

Additional Resources:

CNY man sues nursing home after mother chokes to death on grilled cheese sandwich, Aug. 4, 2016, By Sarah Moses,

More Blog Entries:

Nursing Home Lawsuit Damage Awards Increasingly Sending a Message, Aug. 31, 2016, West Palm Beach Nursing Home Negligence Lawyer Blog

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