For the frail elderly, even mundane body functions such as swallowing can be a challenge. Conditions from advanced Alzheimer’s disease to complications from stroke often make eating, drinking and even breathing difficult for nursing home residents, putting them at an elevated risk for choking and asphyxiation. Nursing homes have a responsibility to supervise and assist residents with swallowing disorders to reduce this risk. Unfortunately, instances of choking in nursing homes remain an all too common cause of injury and death among the elderly.
Each year, more than 500 individuals over the age of 65 die due to choking in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, according to the CDC. Because choking cuts off the supply of oxygen to the brain, even brief choking incidents can result in significant brain damage or death. When families make the hard decision to place an elderly loved one in a nursing home, they trust that nursing home staff will do everything within their power to keep their family member safe. Nursing homes that fail to take adequate steps to monitor residents at high risk for choking can be held liable for nursing home neglect.
Causes of Choking in Nursing Homes
Proper care for residents with difficulty swallowing should include a physician-approved individualized treatment plan that specifies an appropriate diet, eating restrictions, medication and supervision level. Adequate staffing should be available to ensure residents are monitored at mealtimes to prevent choking risks such as eating too quickly or eating while lying down. For patients who must obtain their nutritional intake through endotracheal tubes, trained staff must monitor and clean tubes to ensure they remain clear of debris that can cause choking. Unfortunately, nursing homes that are understaffed or staffed by unqualified, improperly trained, or flat-out careless employees put residents in danger of deadly choking incidents.
Common forms of neglect that can contribute to choking in nursing homes include:
- Failure to monitor eating and drinking
- Providing inappropriate foods or medication
- Allowing dehydration that leads to difficulty swallowing
- Poorly maintaining or monitoring breathing tubes
- Lack of attention to medication side effects
- Neglect of respiratory disease, which can block the airway
Often times, choking incidents in Illinois nursing homes could have been prevented had staff followed proper protocol and physician advice for the victim. It is impossible to measure the depth of anguish felt by families after learning a loved one suffered unnecessarily because of a nursing home’s carelessness. If someone you love has been seriously injured or killed following a choking episode in a nursing home, it’s important to understand your legal rights. You may be entitled to significant financial compensation for medical costs, pain and distress, or wrongful death.
There is no excuse for nursing home neglect or abuse that costs senior citizens their dignity, health and lives. The attorneys at Phillips Law Offices are dedicated to holding nursing homes accountable for the reprehensible mistreatment of elderly residents. Our seasoned Chicago personal injury lawyers have been successfully obtaining justice for victims of nursing home neglect and their families for over six decades. As experts in nursing home abuse and neglect cases, out attorneys are prepared to carefully evaluate the circumstances of your claim, build a strong case, and fight tirelessly to recover the maximum compensation to which you are entitled.
While no amount of money can undo your family member’s suffering, compensation awarded in a lawsuit can help victims and their families find healing and move forward. Contact our Chicago nursing home abuse lawyers today at (312) 346-4262 or online to discuss your legal options during a free initial consultation – and let our wrongful death lawyers help you restore honor and justice for your loved one.