Choking can happen anywhere at any time. It can also have serious and sometimes long-term consequences, especially for seniors. While some medical conditions make choking more likely, all nursing homes should have precautions in place to protect every resident against choking incidents.
If you or a loved one choked while under the professional care of a nursing home, you could be entitled to compensation. Contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm to discuss the specific details of what happened with a member of our team. We can answer any questions that you may have about your legal options and explain how a New York City choking lawyer from our firm can fight for the compensation you deserve.
Some foods present a higher choking risk for seniors. Common foods that could be choking hazards for seniors include:
- Hot dogs
- Peanut butter
- Raw vegetables
- Hard candies
- Sticky candies
There are many different foods that can cause someone to choke that are not included on this list. Technically, a person can choke on any type of food, including soft vegetables and purees. These hazards are why it is exceptionally important to keep an eye on all nursing home residents during mealtimes.
Common Injuries From Choking
Choking can lead to injuries or long-term impacts that many people do not expect. This includes a sore or damaged throat, aspiration pneumonia caused by breathing in foreign particles or liquids, or even brain damage if someone chokes and cuts off their oxygen supply for just three or four minutes. If the foreign object cannot be removed from the person’s throat or if they aspirate, it is possible that they could die from choking.
If your loved one has been injured or died because of a choking incident at a nursing home, you might be able to hold the nursing home responsible for their injuries. If the incident occurred due to neglect or lack of supervision, taking legal action could help to protect other seniors from suffering a similar fate. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today to get started.
For a free legal consultation with a New York City Choking Lawyer serving New York City, call (800) 842-6336
Prevalence of Choking in Nursing Homes
Choking incidents are possible at any nursing home at any time, and they can prove deadly. The National Safety Council reported that in 2015, more than half of all people who died from choking were older than 74.
Nursing home staff should provide supervision to all residents, even if they do not fall into a high-risk category. As seniors age, they may lose some of their ability to take care of their daily living needs. This can include cutting up food into small enough pieces or chewing food thoroughly. As a senior’s situation changes, nursing homes need to adapt their care plans accordingly to keep residents safe.
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Causes of Choking
Choking occurs when food or another object becomes lodged in the throat, making it impossible or difficult to breathe because of the obstruction. While choking can occur even in healthy individuals, certain conditions and situations can cause choking to occur more readily among seniors. These factors include:
- Swallowing disorders: Some swallowing disorders make it difficult for seniors to swallow even small amounts of food.
- Dentures: Ill-fitting dentures can shift around and cause choking, either from the dislodged dentures or food blocked by the dentures.
- Cognitive disorders: Some cognitive disorders, including Parkinson’s disease, can make it much more challenging to swallow foods. Nursing home residents diagnosed with cognitive disorders should be very closely monitored and assisted during mealtimes to prevent choking.
- Throat tumors: Throat tumors or lesions can block airways and cause seniors to choke on food that they try to swallow.
- Allergies: Allergies can cause inflammation and increased levels of postnasal drip, which can make it harder to swallow food.
- Respiratory problems: Any respiratory problem can make choking more likely, including upper respiratory infections.
It is possible that other medical conditions—or simply the size of the individual’s windpipe—increase their choking risk. Every precaution should be taken to reduce a senior’s risk of choking, especially if they have a condition that makes choking more likely.
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Sign of Nursing Home Neglect
A choking incident could mean nothing, or it could be a sign of nursing home neglect. A pattern of choking incidents is likely a sign that residents are not being monitored during mealtimes or given appropriate foods. Choking should not be a common occurrence. If several different nursing home residents choke on food, there could be an argument made that the food may need to be cut up better, or different types of food should be served.
Nursing home neglect occurs in many different forms, including when residents are not supervised properly during mealtimes or given the right levels of daily living assistance they need. If caregivers are elsewhere or not paying attention, a serious choking incident can occur.
If you suspect a loved one suffered an injury because of a choking incident, you might want to talk to a New York City choking lawyer to discuss your legal options.
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Choking Prevention Strategies
There are strategies that nursing homes can use to prevent acute life-threatening choking. These include monitoring a resident’s eating times, providing appropriate foods that are easy to swallow based on the resident’s needs, and having staff trained thoroughly on what to do if someone is choking. Most of the serious consequences of choking occur in the first few minutes after the choking incident started. Properly administered medical and lifesaving techniques, such as the Heimlich maneuver, can make a significant difference in the outcomes.
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If your loved one has been involved in a choking incident, it might make sense to discuss your legal options with a New York City choking lawyer. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today to discuss your concerns with our team.