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Family files wrongful death suit against Wisconsin facility

A Wisconsin mental health complex has come under fire after a suit was filed against the facility, staff members and Wisconsin County Mutual insurance. The wrongful death suit claims that a 62-year-old man died at the facility after choking on a sandwich. According to reports, the man had been a patient of at the facility since 1998 and died after eating the sandwich in June 2011. The man had reportedly been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenic anti-social personality disorder and had choked on food multiple times in the past. Because of this, staff members were supposed to monitor the man during meals, and he was also prohibited from eating bread. According to reports, the man got a sandwich out of the trash and started choking when he ate it. The suit claims that the staff did not respond quickly enough because the closest phone was not in working order. The plaintiffs also allege that responders were not given the man's correct location, further delaying treatment.

The suit alleges that the defendants did not provide the proper one-on-one supervision to the man and did not disciple or train staff members. The suit claims, in particular, that the nurse-to-patient ratios were too low, which kept the staff from being able to administer proper care in a timely manner. The plaintiffs are seeking an unreleased amount of damages. According to reports, this particular facility has a history of delivering substandard care. In similar situations, if a facility has had problems in the past, it may help the surviving family members of victims to establish a pattern that could influence the outcome of any civil claims.

Source: The Journal Sentinel, "Family of man who died at Mental Health Complex sues," July 1, 2014.

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