Choking Accidents in Nursing Homes
When patients who may be prone to choking are admitted to nursing facilities, it is the duty of staff members to compile a personal treatment plan that addresses the risk of choking and to ensure that these patients receive the supervision they need. The nursing home negligence attorneys of Nursing Home Law Center LLC feel that every choking accident is preventable and a symptom of a system of neglectful treatment. Many nursing facilities are understaffed to the point where the staff members on duty simply do not have the time or resources to perform their duties, placing residents at risk of injury.The Primary Causes of Choking in Nursing Homes
As people continue to age, they are at a much greater risk of choking due to a number of concerns that develop over time. Aside from the natural weakening of the muscles responsible for swallowing and keeping objects out of the windpipe, older patients may also suffer from medical conditions which only serve to intensify their risk of choking. In most cases, the risk of choking is readily apparent and our Chicago nursing home injury lawyers cannot recount how many times caregivers have ignored or downplayed these risks and failed to supervise or assist patients that required help.
Following are the most common causes of choking in nursing facilities.
Nerve damage or peripheral neuropathy — there are many reasons why a patient may have suffered nerve damage, including due to a stroke, neuropathy or a neurological disorder. When the nerves controlling the muscles in the throat do not function properly, it can be much more difficult for someone to chew and swallow properly. Diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease all carry risks of choking due to the impact each condition can have on the nervous system.
Dehydration — if the patient is dehydrated, it can be more difficult to chew and swallow due to a dry throat and inflamed tongue. Patients should be provided plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration, but neglected residents often suffer from dehydration and malnutrition.
Eating without supervision or assistance — patients that are at an elevated risk of choking must be monitored whenever they are eating or drinking and may require assistance. Many choking injuries can be prevented through simple supervision and should a patient begin to choke while being monitored, the caregiver can save the patient from harm by performing the Heimlich maneuver.
Epilepsy — patients that are at risk of experiencing seizures are also at an elevated risk of choking, should they experience muscle spasms during the course of a meal. It is important that these patients are monitored, not only due to the risk of choking but also to ensure that they can be treated if they experience a seizure.
Stroke — patients who are suffering or have recently suffered a stroke are at an increased risk of choking, as strokes often result in impaired motor function on one side of the body. This can make eating or drinking extremely difficult.
Improper use of a feeding tube — patients may struggle to breathe or choke if a caregiver inserts a feeding tube or operates it in an improper manner.
Failure to accommodate dietary needs — whenever a patient has a condition which can increase the likelihood of a choking event, he or she should be served foods that are easier to clear the throat in order to help prevent an incident. When these concerns are ignored, it could result in an injury.
The primary concern with choking is damage caused to the brain due to oxygen deprivation, which can become extensive if the victim is choking unnoticed. After six minutes without oxygen, the brain begins to die; with more extensive damage occurring the longer the victim goes without air. Brain damage is irreversible, meaning the victim may lose access to memories, the ability to speak, the ability to perform routine motor functions or the ability to concentrate.
Our nursing home injury lawyers have encountered cases where the patient passed away long before nursing staff were aware of the accident. Simple observation and assistance would have prevented these needless and premature deaths. Fortunately, a new law passed in Illinois now allows patients and their families the ability to supervise the supervisors in order to ensure accountability.
What is known as the Granny Cam law allows families to install cameras in their loved ones’ rooms so that they can record the events that transpire when they are away. While they are primarily used to detect cases of physical or sexual abuse, they can also be used as a way to determine whether patients are receiving the supervision or assistance they require. Caregivers can even use the cameras to be able to keep a closer watch over patients and detect a problem that needs to be addressed quickly.Get Nursing Home Attorneys With Experience With Choking Accident Cases Representing You
Nursing Home Law Center LLC cares about the rights and needs of our elderly community and has a special legal team dedicated to representing the victims of nursing home abuse. It is our goal to help prevent nursing home neglect and abuse where possible and to hold negligent facilities to account for their misdeeds. If you would like to know more about how to protect your loved one from the risk of abuse or neglect or would like to pursue legal action following an injury, contact us today to arrange a free case review.
Our award-winning nursing home negligence attorneys have the experience and knowledge you need to ensure the greatest chance of securing the compensation you are entitled to. Once we review your case, we will go over your legal rights and options with you so that you can make an informed decision on how to proceed with your claim. Our lawyers all work on a contingency fee basis, which means we will never require a fee to retain or services. We will only accept payment after collecting compensation on your behalf and our services are free of charge if we fail to do so.