Seniors oftentimes have additional challenges with swallowing due to weaker muscles or other physical issues, which may lead to choking. However, every elderly resident of a nursing home should receive an evaluation regarding their potential susceptibility to choking, and have other diet choices or safer foods available for them to help prevent these risks. If your elderly loved one suffered any type of injury or death due to choking as a resident in a nursing home, you may have the right to file a nursing home abuse or neglect lawsuit on their behalf. A Forest View choking lawyer wants to ensure your loved one suffers no additional harm as a result of a choking incident. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm to help you determine if you have a strong case and to help you with your next steps.
Causes of Increased Choking Risks in the Elderly
There are many reasons that the elderly would have a higher risk of choking than a healthy adult. Choking often results from a medical condition called dysphagia. This condition makes it difficult to swallow, either due to muscle loss or other unknown reasons. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), about 50 pairs of muscles and nerves create the ability to swallow, and as older nursing home residents age, the ability to swallow may become more and more difficult.
Some other medical conditions that may make it more challenging for an elderly person to easily swallow include:
- Parkinson’s disease.
- Alzheimer’s disease.
- Muscular dystrophy.
- Multiple sclerosis.
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
- Dry mouth.
Any of these conditions could make it more difficult for an elderly person to swallow with ease. If a resident suffers from any of these medical conditions, the resident’s medical record should clearly make a note of the fact that they have additional challenges that make it more difficult for them to swallow, and caregivers should monitor them more closely, especially when eating.
If your elderly loved one suffered from any of these conditions and received injuries or died due to a choking-related event, you may have a case for nursing home abuse or neglect. Consulting a Forest View choking lawyer at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm may help you determine how you should proceed regarding your specific situation. Call us.
Dangers Associated with Choking
Even if a choking incident does not result in immediate danger of death, elderly residents may suffer from aspiration pneumonia after a choking incident. In these cases, the inhalation of food causes these particles to lodge in the lungs. In healthy adults, this food is easily coughed out and no further medical issues result. However, many seniors do not have enough strength to cough these particles of food out, and they remain in the lungs and can cause serious medical complications such as aspiration pneumonia, as reported in the Journal of Thoracic Disease.
For a free legal consultation with a Choking Lawyer serving Forest View, call (800) 794-0444
Responsibility of Nursing Homes to Prevent Choking
Nursing homes have a responsibility and obligation to monitor all their residents for any signs of choking and also carefully assist those residents who have difficulty swallowing for any reason. There are many ways a nursing home can provide assistance to elderly residents to ensure that they do not choke on any foods, including the following:
- Making sure to cut food into smaller pieces to avoid choking on large pieces of meat or other food items.
- Providing the resident with only soft foods upon which they cannot choke.
- Adding certain thickening agents to drinks that make them easier to swallow.
- Carefully monitoring the speed at which a resident eats, and assisting them if they are eating too slowly or quickly.
- Always supervising all residents during meal and snack times.
Additionally, if an elderly resident begins choking, every nursing home staff member should have training regarding how to handle choking incidents, including the Heimlich maneuver and CPR training. If the food does not become dislodged immediately, all nursing home staff members should know to immediately call 911 and request assistance. If an investigation determines that the nursing home staff employees had insufficient training on how to handle choking events, a victim of choking could file a claim for negligence against the nursing home.
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Choking Can Signal Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect
Elder abuse and neglect occur in nursing homes in different ways. If a nursing home employee directly sees a resident choking and does nothing to assist them in any way, that dismissiveness classifies as abuse, which occurs when a caregiver knowingly or recklessly causes harm to a resident. If a nursing home resident is choking due to lack of supervision during eating times, failure to provide soft foods that a resident can easily swallow, or failing to cut up pieces of food into manageable bites, your elderly loved one may have experienced nursing home neglect.
Nursing homes have the responsibility to care and protect the elderly when they cannot do so for themselves. Caregivers can prevent residents from choking with proper supervision and care. If nursing home staff members remain either distracted or unavailable during mealtimes and residents sustain injuries or die from choking, the elderly residents and their families have the legal right to pursue charges for the abuse or neglect.
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A Forest View Choking Lawyer May Help Build Your Case
Nursing homes have the obligation to provide the proper level of care to their residents to ensure that all avoidable choking incidents do not occur during mealtimes. If your loved one suffered injuries or died due to a preventable and avoidable choking incident while in a nursing home, consult a Forest View choking lawyer at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm. Call us for a free consultation.