If your loved one suffers due to nursing home staff not noticing a choking accident is occurring, you might be wondering what they were doing besides monitoring your loved one. Geriatrics (Basel) reported that choking on food accounts for the second-highest cause of preventable death in aged care, which means that choking accidents occur frequently for nursing home residents.
It does not matter whether nursing home abuse or neglect is intentional. If your loved one in a nursing home recently suffered injuries or death after a choking accident, it could be helpful for you to understand the risks and circumstances that led to choking.
Choking Accidents in Nursing Homes
It is not up to a nursing home resident’s family to let nursing home staff know that their loved one is at a higher risk for choking. Some older adults are at higher risk for choking due to their health complications, which their medical records should note.
According to Geriatrics (Basel), elderly adults live at a higher risk of choking on food than children aged 1–4 years of age. Some nursing home residents need as much care as possible for daily activities like eating and drinking, so being aware of the risk of choking is very important.
Risks of Choking for People 65 and Older
The prevalence of choking accidents for people 65 and older is not only due to internal factors like natural aging, but additional external factors can pose an increased choking threat. Dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, can present itself naturally with age, and especially in chronic conditions like Parkinson’s disease, or in people with a history of stroke, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Here are some of the internal and external risks for choking in people over 65:
- Loss of attention span
- Increased frailty and reduced strength with aging
- Poor posture while eating
- Poor mobility
- Poorly fitted dentures
- Sedative-like medications that alter perception while eating
- Using a feeding tube to eat
- Lack of monitoring while eating
Of course, choking accidents are not one-size-fits-all, so there are many different factors that can contribute to a loved one choking in a nursing home. Every person ages in an individual way, so the risk factors from choking will be unique for everyone. This is something that attentive nursing staff should be trained to handle.
The Difficulty of Preventing Choking
Sometimes choking can be difficult to prevent, especially if the nursing home staff is overwhelmed or wants to give your loved one as much autonomy and independence as possible. Realistically, nursing home residents require a re-evaluation of their needs, especially when it comes to eating and drinking, so choking is usually always easily avoided by some level of oversight during mealtime.
It is important to remember that nursing home neglect classifies as a violation of your loved one’s rights, even when it is unintentional. If your loved one suffers at the hands of a nursing home caretaker, you may need to step in and defend their rights.
Nursing Home Resident Bill of Rights
In a nursing home, your loved one has rights to all of the care and services needed to thrive as a resident, according to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Not noticing a choking accident is occurring is a major oversight on the part of the nursing home staff, which has an obligation to provide care for your loved one’s medical needs, including nursing needs and psychosocial needs.
Anything less than meeting those basic requirements for care warrants further investigation. The U.S. Department of Justice also details the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987, which further protects the rights of nursing home residents.
If your loved one suffers from a choking accident, it is not important whether they showed signs of being at increased risk for choking. It is the legal obligation of the nursing home staff to act in good faith towards your loved one and to understand that most residents in their care will be at a naturally increased risk for choking. You do not need to wait until your loved one faces more severe consequences from a choking accident to take legal action against negligent nursing home staff.
Hold Nursing Homes Accountable for Choking Accidents
Choking is easily preventable with an attentive nursing home staff that goes above and beyond to make sure that your loved one has what they need. If your loved one suffered from a choking accident, a nursing home lawyer can determine how your loved one’s rights to good quality care may have suffered from negligence.
The lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm have your rights and protections in mind, so you do not need to worry about handling an abusive nursing home situation alone. Call our offices now for a free consultation concerning your case. You can reach us at (800) 842-6336.