Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers Chicago, IL

The Hidden Dangers of Choking in Nursing Homes

Senior woman in a nursing home choking on food while eating.

Elderly people aged 65 and above are at an increased risk of experiencing choking and asphyxiation incidents. Research suggests that about 40% of elderly residents in nursing homes have difficulty swallowing.

The nursing home neglect attorneys at Ferrell Young, LLC recognize that choking events often indicate negligence in nursing homes. If your loved one has suffered due to neglect, we can help you seek the justice and financial compensation your family deserves.

What causes choking in nursing homes?

Choking in nursing homes can stem from neglect. Nursing homes are required to minimize choking hazards, yet many fail to adequately assess such risks or provide appropriate care after choking events. Often, these incidents result from avoidable mistakes or neglect. They’re typically related to food, medication, medical equipment, liquids, or other elements.

The exact frequency of choking incidents in nursing homes is challenging to determine due to underreporting within the industry. Estimates suggest that elderly nursing home residents face a choking and suffocation death rate that is eight times higher than other age groups.

Choking risks in nursing homes often stem from reduced saliva production, dry mouth from certain medications, and dehydration. This condition, known as dysphagia, affects a considerable number of nursing home residents. Such neglect can lead to serious consequences, including septic shock and aspiration pneumonia.

Factors contributing to choking events in nursing homes include:

  • The speed of feeding.
  • Ill-fitting dentures.
  • Understaffing
  • Lack of monitoring during meal times.

Recognizing and reducing the risks of choking in nursing homes

Recognizing and mitigating risk factors for choking is crucial for the safety of residents, staff, and loved ones. Key indicators of an increased choking risk include:

  • Difficulty in communication.
  • Drooling.
  • Pain while swallowing.
  • Heartburn.
  • Vomiting.
  • A sensation of food stuck in the throat.
  • Medications causing dry mouth.
  • Insufficient access to fluids.
  • History of choking.

To reduce choking risks, nursing homes can implement strategies such as bolus modification, which involves serving easily chewable food. This ensures that residents eat in an upright position and allows ample time for slow and thorough chewing.

Why choking risks persist in nursing homes

Despite these measures, follow-up care for residents at risk of choking is often lacking. Research shows that about 75% of nursing homes don’t regularly screen for dysphagia and fail to conduct follow-up evaluations after a choking incident.

Know your rights if your loved one suffered due to nursing home neglect

Nursing homes are legally obligated to provide proper care to their residents, including preventing choking incidents. Such events can lead to severe or fatal injuries, including throat damage, complications from the Heimlich Maneuver, asphyxiation, hypoxia, brain damage, and aspiration pneumonia.

If your loved one has been affected by a choking incident in a nursing home, it’s crucial to learn about your legal options. The legal team at Ferrell Young, LLC thoroughly investigates incidents of nursing home neglect and abuse. We fight to hold negligent nursing home staff and facilities accountable when their actions harm residents.

We invite you to contact us for a free and confidential legal consultation to find out how we can assist you. You can also call our Chicago law office and speak to one of our representatives.

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