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Thursday 18 January 2018

Woman (97) died after choking on her favourite meal

The Dublin Coroner's Court
The Dublin Coroner's Court

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

Alice Minogue, who had lived independently until she was well into her 90s, was a resident at St Mary's Hospital in the Phoenix Park, Dublin 8.

A former seamstress, Ms Minogue entered the hospital after suffering a number of falls as she had become unsteady on her feet.

Content

She was a resident at St Mary's for three years, had settled in well and was content, Dublin Coroner's 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," Ms 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 abdominal thrusts," she 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.

"Initially I was sure she would be OK but she was becoming very weak," Ms Ogunko added.

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, the inquest heard.

Sympathised

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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