On May 29, 2010, a resident of Bethesda Heritage Center ,a nursing home in Minnesota, died after choking on raw cucumbers that the facility never have should even served to her. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) cited the facility for neglect.
After being fed the raw cucumbers, the resident began choking. A staff member performed the Heimlich maneuver, causing her to expel a mouthful of food. However, she was still having trouble breathing, so an ambulance was called. The resident was taken to the emergency room at Rice Memorial Hospital where she died of respiratory failure and choking.
The Minnesota Department of Health found that Bethesda did not have an adequate method for identifying a patient’s diet when serving meals. After this unfortunate and preventable choking death, the facility retrained staff on residents’ dietary requirements and now requires both nursing and dietary employees to check that meals comply with the resident’s diet.
Medicare rates Bethesda Heritage Center as a four-star facility (out of five stars), which is an above average rating. However, Bethesda is a large, 128-bed facility. Even facilities with above average ratings can have problems. In this case, the facility’s thoughtless oversight resulted in the death of one of its residents. Unfortunately, choking deaths are all too common in nursing homes (See “Nursing Homes Abuse Blog: Choking”). Therefore, it is important that the staff remain vigilant and follow orders to the letter.
Star Tribune: Wilmar Nursing Home Blamed For Resident Choking To Death On Raw Cukes
Minnesota Department of Health: Health Care Facilities Programs
West Central Tribune: Bethesda Cited After Resident Chokes to Death
KSAX-TV: Choking Death Sparks Changes at Wilmar Retirement Home
Nursing Homes Abuse Blog: Choking