Nursing home resident choked on piece of bread, inquest hears

Patrick Byrne (75), who was on liquid diet, suffered cardiac arrest at Co Kildare home

A man in a nursing home died after choking on a piece of bread given to him by a fellow resident, an inquest has heard.

Patrick Byrne (75) suffered a cardiac arrest after he choked on the piece of bread at TLC Centre, Straffan Road, Maynooth, Co Kildare on January 17th, 2017.

The man, who was on a liquid-only diet, was seated at a table in the dining room where residents were having bread and tea.

CCTV footage shows interaction between the man and other residents in the room and one brought a plate with a piece of bread on it. CCTV footage shows staff in the dining room as events unfold.


Health care assistant Katy Musgrave said she saw Mr Byrne eating bread. She knew he was on a liquid diet but did not want to upset him by asking him to spit out the bread and she monitored him instead.

“He wasn’t allowed it but was agitated. I told him to take his time,” she said.

When she realised he was choking she carried out a finger sweep of his mouth but some of the bread remained lodged.

“Paddy was always in a hurry eating. I saw a look on his face. I knew he was choking,” Ms Musgrave said.

When advanced paramedic Georgina Flynn arrived at the scene at 10.28pm, chest compressions were under way. "I found his airway blocked with bread," she told the court. She used a forceps to clear the airway and administered adrenalin.

Mr Byrne was rushed to Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown where he was pronounced dead.

The cause of death was hypoxic brain injury due to a choking incident with dementia and poor swallow as additional risk factors.

Director of nursing at the centre Catherine Tighe said a number of changes had been implemented since Mr Byrne's death including asking patients to spit out food they should not be eating.

Patients no longer have open access to snacks or supper. Cupboards are locked and staff hold keys.

Coroner Dr Crona Gallagher returned a verdict of accidental death and endorsed the changes made at the nursing home in the aftermath of the incident.

“The choking was accidental and unexpected and came out of the blue and caused his death,” the coroner said.