Lowering the Risk of Choking Accidents in Nursing Homes

worried woman with pills in handSome nursing home patients have difficulty swallowing food or medications due to a variety of health issues. This is why nursing homes need to take preventive measures to help lower the risk of choking.

When nursing homes fail to implement dietary restrictions to prevent choking, or do not monitor residents while eating, and choking occurs, the nursing home and its staff members could potentially be held liable if the resident is injured or dies.

Roden Law’s Macon nursing home abuse attorneys are prepared to fight for justice for the victims of choking accidents. If your loved one has been harmed due to negligence in a nursing home, contact us today for a free, no obligation consultation to discuss potential legal options.

Risk Factors for Choking

Choking happens when food or medications enter a person’s windpipe instead of the esophagus, which leads to the stomach. This obstruction in the windpipe can restrict air supply. If the obstruction is not cleared correctly right away, restricted airflow can cause brain damage or death.

Swallowing involves over 50 different muscle pairs and nerves working together to complete the task. Since there are so many aspects of swallowing, there are many reasons why a nursing home resident could have difficulties swallowing, also known as dysphagia, including:

  • Neurological damage caused by stroke, or brain or spinal cord injuries
  • Neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis or muscular atrophy
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Cancer and radiation treatments
  • Aging

Patients with breathing tubes can also be at risk of suffocation, which can occur when a person chokes on food. If a breathing tube becomes clogged, airflow to the brain is restricted and can lead to injury or death.

Patients who use breathing tubes should be carefully monitored to ensure no clogs occur. If the breathing tube becomes clogged due to improper monitoring, the nursing home could be found at fault for the choking accident and potentially held liable for damages.

Avoiding Choking Accidents

To prevent choking accidents, nursing homes must carefully monitor residents, particularly those with a high risk of choking.

Residents should be medically assessed to determine swallowing difficulties and their severity. Residents with swallowing difficulties should be placed on a modified diet and monitored while eating. This should be noted in the resident’s chart so all staff members are aware. Staff should only give a resident food that is allowed by his or her diet.

Residents with swallowing difficulties also need to be monitored when they are given medications. Even small pills can potentially lead to choking.

Nursing home staff members should be trained to administer proper choking treatment. If the choking patient is able to cough forcefully, the back blow technique should be administered. Otherwise, the Heimlich maneuver involving abdominal thrusts should be used.

Nursing homes should be properly staffed to ensure proper monitoring of residents as well as quick treatment in case of a choking incident.

If nursing homes fail to take proper precautions to prevent choking accidents, the facility can be held responsible for harm suffered by a choking resident. Nursing homes are responsible to keep residents safe while eating, taking medications and using breathing tubes.

Contact an Attorney for Help

If your loved one has been injured due to a choking accident in a nursing home, the Macon personal injury attorneys of Roden Law will help your family seek justice. We will evaluate your case and let you know what legal options are available for securing compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering and other damages caused by the negligence of another party.

Request a free, no obligation consultation now. Our firm charges no upfront fees and payment is only owed if we recover compensation in your case.