An 85-year-old World War II Navy veteran who was a resident of a nursing home operated by the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs choked to death on June 10, 2012 after he was brought breakfast and left alone to eat, which was contrary to his care plan that required that he receive assistance while eating and drinking because he suffered from dysphasia, which is a swallowing disorder that requires close supervision while eating and drinking in order to prevent choking.
Breakfast was brought to the veteran in his room at 8:00 a.m. by a nursing home employee, who then left the room. Twenty minutes later, a nurse came into the man’s room to give him his medications but instead found the man lying in his bed, blue and cyanotic, and the nurse attempted to clear his airway by performing the Heimlich maneuver, according to the family’s New Jersey nursing home negligence lawsuit that alleged that the nursing home did not have sufficient staff to provide proper care to the veteran. Despite the nurse’s efforts, the man died ten minutes later.
While investigating the family’s nursing home death claim, the plaintiff’s lawyer discovered that another resident of the same New Jersey VA nursing home had choked to death two weeks after his client’s father had died. That resident had been found choking in the nursing home’s day room and died after the Heimlich maneuver was attempted to dislodge food from the resident’s throat. The nursing home allegedly advised a state health inspector that the resident had died from heart failure despite the resident’s death certificate that stated the cause of death to be acute airway obstruction with food.
The New Jersey VA nursing home was reportedly cited by the New Jersey Department of Health for its failure to report the accidental death of the second resident. However, the nursing home never reported the first resident’s death, alleging that it was not required to do so because of the type of accidental death.
An agreement to settle the family’s nursing home negligence lawsuit for $1.4 million was reached in March 2015 and recently became final. Nonetheless, the New Jersey VA nursing home did not admit to its liability as part of the settlement agreement.
The New Jersey VA nursing home has an overall rating of four stars (above average) on CMS’ Nursing Home Compare website. However, in the health inspections category, it received three stars (average) because three state inspections during the past three years found five or more deficiencies at the nursing home.
If you or a loved one suffered injury (or worse) due to nursing home abuse, nursing home neglect, nursing home negligence, or nursing home infection in New Jersey or elsewhere in the United States, you should promptly find a nursing home claim lawyer in your state who may investigate your nursing home claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a nursing home claim, if appropriate.
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