As people age, they develop the possibility of health problems that typically do not affect younger people. One of those is choking while eating. According to the Mayo Clinic, senior citizens can be diagnosed with a condition called dysphagia, which makes it difficult for them to swallow properly, leading to the potential for choking problems at mealtime. In addition to affecting the person’s ability to swallow, dysphagia can create pain when swallowing, causing the elderly person to fear mealtime or try to change the way he or she swallows, increasing the chance of choking.
If nursing home staff members know that your loved one could be susceptible to choking, they must be on guard during mealtime. If this did not happen, and your loved one had an incident, consider hiring an Austin choking lawyer from Pintas & Mullins Law Firm. Contact our team for a free consultation today at (800) 842-6336.
What Might Constitute a Choking Risk
For someone who has a condition like dysphagia, mealtime represents a significant choking risk. However, there are many other risks for choking incidents for elderly people. If any of these issues are present for your loved one, nursing home staff need to be aware of them and ready to take preventative steps, along with immediate care if choking occurs.
When an elderly person has a health condition that affects his or her breathing, such as asthma, it can lead to airway inflammation. This can cause problems when swallowing.
For a nursing home resident who was a heavy smoker or who has COPD, choking is a greater possibility at mealtime too.
Blocked Breathing Tube
A kind of choking hazard that does not involve eating occurs when a nursing home resident is on a ventilator with a breathing tube. Sometimes, the tube will end up with obstructions, which leaves the elderly person unable to receive the air they need.
Staff must recognize this problem quickly and take steps to clear the breathing tube before irreparable harm occurs.
Injured Throat Tissues
When someone has a choking incident with food, it can damage the tissues inside the throat. A feeling of having scratches in the throat because of a past choking incident can lead to further choking problems in the future.
With discomfort from injured tissues in the throat, the elderly person may develop a fear of swallowing because of the pain and the feeling of food becoming lodged, enhancing choking chances.
Heimlich Maneuver Injuries
If your loved one began choking for whatever reason, staff members might have had to perform the Heimlich maneuver on him or her. Although this is a life-saving act, it can lead to other types of injuries, such as broken ribs, significant bruising, or damage to internal organs, according to the American College of Emergency Physicians. All of these types of injuries can create long-term problems for your loved one, as healing may go slowly.
No matter the reason why your loved one suffered a choking incident, if the nursing home’s staff did not do enough to prevent it or to treat it properly, you might want to contact an Austin choking lawyer for help with your case. At Pintas & Mullins Law Firm, we are ready to help you receive the settlement you deserve. Contact our team today for a no-obligation consultation.
When Choking Might Be a Sign of Abuse
Certainly, some choking incidents at a nursing home are simply an accident. No one could have anticipated what was going to happen, and it was no one’s fault. Other times, though, a choking issue can be a clear sign of negligence or abuse. Some of the ways a choking incident at a nursing home may fit the definition of negligent include:
● Failing to follow dietary orders: a doctor may have standing orders with the nursing home about certain foods your loved one should not eat, but if the staff fails to follow these orders, abuse or negligence may have occurred.
● Failing to provide something to drink: having water or another type of beverage available can help residents chew their food more thoroughly, reducing choking hazards.
● Ignoring past choking incidents: if your loved one has had a choking problem in the past, the staff must consider the possibility of choking at every meal.
● Ignoring allergic reactions: if your loved one has a known allergy and an exposure could cause swelling in the throat, this is a choking hazard that the nursing home staff should be able to prevent.
● Not ensuring safe portion sizes: if an elderly resident cannot cut food into safe sizes for swallowing, staff should help with this task.
● Not having enough staff members: if the facility does not have enough staff members monitoring mealtime, they may not be able to respond to a choking hazard quickly enough, resulting in a negligent situation.
● Forcing a resident to eat fast: staff members may attempt to rush your loved one through mealtime, but this leaves your loved one unable to chew and swallow his or her food properly, possibly causing a choking incident.
For a free legal consultation with a Choking Lawyer serving Austin, call (800) 794-0444
Hold the Nursing Home Responsible for Its Actions
When seeking a judgment in a personal injury case, such as when your loved one suffers a preventable injury at the nursing home, you need to be able to show that the nursing home acted negligently. This simply means that staff members easily could have taken a different course of action, and your loved one’s injuries did not need to happen.
In the state of Texas, according to Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code §16.003, you have up to two years to begin the process of filing a claim for your loved one’s injuries. Consider contacting an Austin choking lawyer for assistance with the process as soon as possible.
When you hire the team at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm, we will be ready to begin working on your behalf. We appreciate the opportunity to tackle tough cases. For a free case review, contact us at (800) 842-6336 today.