Wednesday 23 January 2019

Pensioner (97) choked and died while eating her favourite meal

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)

Louise Roseingrave

A 97-year-old lady was eating her favourite meal of sausage and chips when she choked and died, an inquest heard.

Alice Minogue, who lived independently all her life until she was well into her nineties, was a resident at St Mary’s Hospital in the Phoenix Park in Dublin 8.

A former seamstress, she entered the hospital after suffering a number of falls as she'd become unsteady on her feet. She was a resident at St Mary's for three years, had settled in well and was content, the court heard. Dining room staff helped prepare her for her lunch, which was served shortly after 12.45pm on May 23 2016.

Nurse manager on the ward Joy Gicale said Ms Minogue loved her meals and was generally alert on the ward.

“She was always awake, she loved her meals,” Nurse Gicale said.

Staff member Fidelia Ogunko was in the dining room when she spotted Ms Minogue in difficulty.

“I could see immediately that Alice was choking. She was not coughing or talking and I proceeded with abdomen thrusts,” the nurse said.

The administration of the heimlich manoeuvre removed some pieces of the meal from the woman’s airway but she quickly deteriorated despite staff-members’ best efforts to save her.

“Initially I was sure she would be okay but she was becoming very weak,” Nurse Ogunko said.

The hospital medical registrar arrived at 1.10pm. He performed further efforts to clear the airway but Ms Minogue was unresponsive. She was transferred from the dining room to her bed where she was pronounced dead at 1.25pm.

The cause of death was asphyxia due to choking, Dublin Coroner’s Court heard. The woman had mild dementia and this was deemed to be a contributory factor in her death. Pathologist Dr Munah Sabah found a blockage of food deep in her airway.

Returning a verdict of accidental death, Coroner Dr Crona Gallagher sympathised with the family.

“She got to a great age, this was an unfortunate end to a very full and independent life,” Dr Gallagher said.

Ms Minogue was very much loved by staff at the hospital, they were extremely fond of her and saddened by her passing, the inquest heard.

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