Man claims nursing home allowed mother to choke to death

By John Suayan, Galveston Bureau | Jul 24, 2012


GALVESTON - Complaining a local nursing facility covered up the real reason behind his mother's death while under its care, John S. Carrio has filed a lawsuit.

Recent court documents filed July 12 in Galveston County District Court claim Harbourview Care Center Inc. did not inform the plaintiff that Irene Garza Carrio choked to death as she was being fed by a licensed vocational nurse on July 12, 2010.

The suit shows the defendant was supposed to abide by a mandatory diet plan which required the decedent's food to be chopped up in order to reduce the possibility of choking.

According to the plaintiff, the defendant told emergency responders summoned to his mother's aid that she choked on rice when it was a large piece of meat dislodged in her throat.

Irene Garza Carrio, however, had a "do not resuscitate" order prompting lifesaving efforts to cease.

John S. Carrio asserts the events leading to his mother's passing were not recorded by the defendant and the facility's account of the failed attempt to revive her contradicted with that of EMS.

He adds "the only situation in which life-sustaining procedures could have been properly withheld or withdrawn was an instance in which Mrs. Carrio would have been determined to be suffering from an incurable or irreversible condition caused by injury, disease or illness certified to be a terminal condition by two physicians."

"Moreover, the evidence clearly establishes that not only did Harbourview staff cause the injury from which Mrs. Carrio ultimately died, but that they withheld life-sustaining efforts in an effort to cover up their error," the suit says.

It ultimately argues that the death certificate filed with the Galveston County Health District "contains, at worst, deliberately false information and at best, omits relevant information."

The suit states the document listed Irene Garza Carrio's immediate cause of death as "cardiopulmonary failure" instead of "asphyxiation."

A jury trial is requested.

Attorney Byron M. Buchanan with The Buchanan Law Office in Houston is representing the plaintiff, and Galveston County 122nd District Court Judge John Ellisor is presiding over the case.

Case No. 12-cv-1497

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