Choking is a possibility any time an object enters your mouth. If you are eating, drinking, or wearing dentures, for example, you could be at risk. Choking can cause a great deal of trauma, injuries, and even death. Sometimes choking can be caused by a third party, rather than the victim. If you or your loved one were the victim of a choking accident, you could be eligible for financial compensation. No two cases are alike, so it could be beneficial to discuss your case with an Atlanta choking lawyer. The team at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm is available to answer your questions during a free consultation. Call us for more information.
Causes of Choking
Several factors can cause or increase the risk of choking. Age is one factor. Older adults tend to be more at risk due to compromised physical ability that can affect chewing, medications with adverse side effects like drowsiness, and being under the care of others. While most caregivers are successful in providing services, sometimes things are overlooked. If a caregiver does not cut food into appropriate size pieces, for example, the person eating is at risk. Other causes of choking include:
- Taking bites or consuming pieces of food that are too large
- Eating foods that are difficult to chew, such as tough pieces of meat
- Falling asleep or dozing off while eating
- Accidently inhaling while eating food
- Placing foreign objects in your mouth
- Eating too quickly
- Being distracted while eating
- Lack of supervision while eating
Unfortunately, choking is more common than you might expect. If your loved one suffered from choking while being supervised in a nursing home by staff or caregivers, you may want to consider speaking with an Atlanta choking lawyer about your case. Sometimes compensation is available for victims and their families.
According to the National Safety Council, choking is one of the leading causes of preventable death. Over 5,000 people lost their lives to choking in 2015 alone, and over half of these victims were elderly. If your loved one is an older adult who lives in a nursing home, it is important to understand the dangers of choking and how you can prevent and react to a choking event.
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The Dangers of Choking for Elderly Adults
Certain demographics, such as children, elderly adults, and others who rely on help with feeding, can be at an increased risk of choking. There are several reasons why the elderly population could be more in danger of choking than others, including:
- Decrease in motor skill function: One reason an older adult might choke is because of a deterioration of motor skills. This can translate into difficulty chewing, swallowing, and use of the mouth, jaw, neck, and throat muscles associated with eating.
- Dentures or insufficient tooth strength: Sometimes older individuals suffer from a degradation of their teeth and oral tissue. This can decrease their ability to chew food sufficiently enough to swallow. Another reason chewing could be more difficult is due to dentures, which are removable prosthetics used to replace missing teeth. Dentures can complicate the chewing process or become a choking hazard in and of themselves.
- Caregiver error: Caregivers of adults who are in danger of choking should be aware of any special needs a nursing home resident or care recipient has. If an elderly adult has dentures, difficulty chewing, or medical conditions that could create dangers while eating, it is the responsibility of the caregiver to administer food safely in accordance with specific needs. Failure to do so could be a form of negligence and create a great deal of danger.
- Side effects of medications: Many adults, especially the elderly, take a number of prescription medications. These medications can have dangerous side effects. If a medication causes you to be drowsy, for example, it could be dangerous to eat under these conditions.
- Medical conditions: Medical conditions that affect muscular function, alertness, and the nervous system can make swallowing difficult. Other disorders, such as dysphagia, specifically target swallowing and digestion and can increase the likelihood of a choking accident.
While many people take eating for granted as a part of daily life, the reality is that the dangers of choking are always present. If you or your loved one suffered from a choking accident and a third party may have been partially at fault, you may be able to seek justice through legal action.
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Responding to Choking
If you ever encounter someone choking, performing the Heimlich Maneuver, designed to dislodge food and objects from an airway, can be lifesaving. If a person loses consciousness while choking, sometimes CPR needs to be administered to restore respiratory function. Calling 9-1-1 and emergency personnel as soon as possible is also crucial in these situations. If you are interested in learning more about what you can do in choking situations, instructional courses are available to help individuals learn how to respond.
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If your loved one is under the care of another person, you should be sure all health conditions, dietary needs, medications, and other pertinent information is communicated effectively. You should also be certain that caregivers are feeding your loved one appropriately and being mindful of specific medical needs on a consistent basis. If you feel as though they are being negligent, you should report this immediately. The risks of choking are serious and can be life-threatening.
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Legal Action Available for Victims
Taking legal action against those who may have been responsible for a choking incident might feel like an overwhelming process. The legal system can seem intimidating and complex. An Atlanta choking lawyer at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can help you understand your options. Call us to speak with a team member about your case in detail in order to determine the best course of action for you. In some cases, victims can recover financial compensation in several forms. Remember that time could be running out for you to take action and bring justice to you and your loved ones.