A southern Minnesota nursing home is being blamed for one of its residents choking on food and dying while left to eat without the medically required supervision.
With his wife alone in the room with him at the Adams Health Care Center in Mower County, the man had eaten a few bites of fruit during his evening meal on March 18, 2011, and was discovered turning blue and died while choking, according to an investigation by the Minnesota Health Department released Tuesday.
The care center was found to be responsible for the neglect of the resident, identified by family as Wayne Bye, 90, of Austin, Minn.
The report noted that Bye was known by medical personnel to have difficulty swallowing but was left there with only his wife by his side anyway, even though her memory problems prevented her from helping him with his meals or recognizing an emergency situation.
Bye's death prevented the family from following through on its plans to take him home that day for hospice care, required because of complications that set in due to pneumonia, said son Steve Bye.
"When we came to his room, he had just died," the son said.
According to the report:
A nursing assistant brought the resident his meal on a tray and left the room, allowing for private time with family.
The resident began coughing, prompting two nurses to come into the room. By then, the man's heart had stopped and he wasn't breathing. A nurse determined that a small amount of fruit had been eaten, the resident's lips were blue and his skin had a "bluish discoloration."
No emergency action was taken because staff members were unsure whether the resident was choking and he had a "do not resuscitate" directive.
While the investigation found the facility responsible, the state did not require it to take any corrective actions.
Nursing home administrator Cheryl Gustason declined to answer questions about Bye's death and, instead, issued a statement that said he and his family "specifically asked not to receive assistance with eating."
However, the state report did not address assistance with eating but rather dealt with him not being supervised during the meal that evening.
Paul Walsh -- 612-673-4482