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Nursing Home Accused Of Neglect After Patient's Death

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A southeastern Minnesota nursing home is accused of neglect after a patient died from choking on food during a meal last march, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

Officials said the incident happened on March 18, 2011, at the Adams Health Care Center south and east of Austin. Staff interviews and a review of the staff scheduling did not identify the person responsible for the resident's meal assistance on March 18.

Officials said a night nurse came in early that day to aid with staffing needs. That nurse delivered a meal tray to the resident's room and helped set up preparation for the meal, but was not sure that they should stay to assist the resident through the meal.

The resident's nurses had specific instructions from the resident's medical history on what to feed and how to feed the resident, including telling the patient to swallow each bite twice, clear the throat often, eat slowly and elevate the head of the bed 90 degrees while eating and down to 45 degrees for 30 minutes after eating.

Health officials said the resident had a history of pneumonia and difficulty breathing. Because of that, the resident was at risk for choking and loss of breathe during a meal and nurses are required to be in the room during resident's meal.

At about 6:03 p.m. on March 18, the resident's wife reported to nurses that the resident started coughing during his meal. When nurses got to his room, the resident had stopped breathing and had no heart rate.

The resident died as a result of choking and losing ability to breathe during the meal, according to health department officials. The incident is still under investigation.

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