New York Nursing Home Residents and the Risk of Choking Deaths
Nursing home residents take little for granted, including the basic functioning of their bodies. While nursing home residents often struggle with challenges like maintaining proper vision and staying mobile, they sometimes overlook the hazard of choking. Data compiled by the National Safety Council shows that choking is the fourth most common cause of unintentional injuries or fatalities among the elderly. More than 5,000 individuals over the age of 74 died from choking in 2015.
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Understaffing Contributes to Rate of Choking Incidents
Many nursing home residents face physical conditions that make it difficult to chew and swallow. Despite these conditions, however, many nursing home injuries and fatalities due to choking occur due to factors that could have been prevented through adequate care and precaution. Chronic understaffing at nursing homes often results in a lack of adequate supervision of residents and an increased danger of choking.
Inadequate staffing can also result in improperly implemented dietary restrictions, which can also lead choking accidents. Because nursing homes are responsible for ensuring their facilities are properly staffed, residents who are harmed by choking due to a lack of supervision often have a strong legal basis on which to pursue a claim.
What Places Older Nursing Home Residents at Increased Risk of Choking
Countless medical conditions, from Alzheimer’s to stroke complications, place nursing home residents at an increased risk of choking. Weakened physical abilities as well as the loss of muscle strength in the throat are just some of the various factors that place make it more difficult for elderly individuals to swallow food.
Choking can quickly result in death. Irreversible brain damage due to lack of oxygen can occur in a matter of minutes. Even if an elderly individual survives the choking incident, additional complications can also arise. For example, aspiration pneumonia can occur when pieces of food are inhaled and infect a person’s lungs. While a healthy person’s body would normally cough out these objects, the bodies of nursing home residents are often too weak to dislodge them.
The Causes of Choking Incidents at Nursing Homes
Nursing homes must provide adequate care to each resident. For residents with difficulty swallowing, this means that nursing homes should include physician-approved treatment plans that establish their diet, eating restrictions, and medications. Staff should also monitor residents during mealtimes. Nursing homes, however, often fail to provide residents with this basic level of care. Some of the most common forms of neglect at nursing homes that are known to result in choking incidents include:
- Allowing conditions to lead to dehydration in residents and difficulty swallowing
- Failure to monitor eating and drinking
- Not paying adequate attention to medication side effects
- Not sufficiently monitoring breathing tubes
- Providing food or medication in an unsafe manner
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Speak With an Experienced Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
If your loved one has been injured or killed as a result of a choking incident and someone at a nursing home is to blame, you should not hesitate to speak with a compassionate elder abuse attorney. Contact the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe LLP today to schedule a free case evaluation.