Why Missouri Nursing Home Residents are Choking to Death: Learn More About This Deadly Risk from Our St. Louis Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Lawyer
Even as a child, one of the most basic precautions we are taught about is choking. In fact, every one knows that we are aren’t supposed to eat too much or food that we are incapable of eating because it is dangerous and poses and obvious health emergency. Most schools and employers hold trainings what to do if someone is choking, such as using the Heimlich maneuver. The National Safety Committee reports that choking is the fourth leading cause of unintentional death causing over 5,000 deaths each year. Of these choking deaths, almost 3,000—or 60%—of all choking deaths were people over 74 years old. Unfortunately, even though every one has been taught the importance of prevention and warnings of choking, our St. Louis nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer knows that some Missouri nursing homes have simply made the choice to ignore some of the most simple choking prevention techniques known.
Choking in Missouri nursing homes is a very serious threat to the health and safety of residents. Choking incidents can result in serious personal injury to residents such as permanent, debilitating, and irreparable damage to a resident’s throat, esophagus, and lungs. Serious choking incidents can result in the prolonged loss of oxygen which could cause a traumatic brain injury due to the hypoxic (lack of oxygen) condition in the brain. Individuals who suffer a brain injury due to lack of oxygen from choking and survive will likely live the rest of their life in a vegetative state, unable to communicate with their loved one. The most serious choking incidents can result in the wrongful death of a patient after a prolonged and terrifying period of pre-death pain and suffering.
Hazards of Choking in Missouri Nursing Homes
There are several choking hazards that a nursing home resident may have that other people may not. For instance, here are some common hazards that require nursing homes to pay extra attention to all residents to guard against choking:
- Cancer patients – nursing home residents suffering from or recovering from cancer treatments may have a more difficult time eating or swallowing. Residents that are suffering from mouth, throat, esophageal, and other types of cancer are particularly at risk.
- Dementia or Alzheimer’s residents – nursing home residents with these cognitive impairments are much more likely to have difficulty eating and swallowing, and may routinely forget how to properly do so. Nursing homes must provide close supervision to ensure the resident is protected.
- Neurological injuries – patients with spinal cord or brain injuries may have difficultly eating and swallowing, and may need help and coaching during mealtime.
- Neurological disorders and conditions – residents suffering from Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, and other conditions may have extreme difficulty eating and swallowing due to compromised throat muscles.
- Recovering from health emergencies – nursing home residents recovering from a stroke or heart attack may have difficulty eating and swallowing, and may lack strength to safely eat. While they may be short-term rehabilitation residents in otherwise good health, it is important for a nursing home to recognize that these residents need supervision while eating.
Causes of Choking Injuries and Choking Wrongful Deaths in Missouri Nursing Homes
While nursing homes are required to be the well-trained for avoiding and treating a resident who is having a choking emergency, unfortunately far too often they are not. Many times a choking incident could have been completely avoided with proper care and treatment of a nursing home staff member. In fact, in some cases, choking incidents are actually caused by the reckless, careless, and downright negligent acts or omissions of a nursing home staff member.
Some common examples of choking injuries and choking wrongful deaths due to Missouri nursing home neglect includes the following:
- Failing to comply with a patient’s dietary guidelines (i.e., if a patient has a soft food restriction, giving the resident a chicken sandwich);
- Improperly training staff how to feed residents;
- Neglecting to monitor residents who are eating and a risk for choking;
- Improperly maintaining a resident’s breathing tubes;
- Rushing residents to eat faster;
- Forcing residents who are tired or ill to eat against their wishes;
- Not supervising residents during mealtime;
- Failing to train staff how to perform emergency maneuvers to treat choking residents;
- Understaffing of mealtime;
- Cutting food too big and feeding to residents;
- Administering medications prior to eating that make a resident fatigued and tired; and
- Creating menus of food that are dangerous to certain residents and more likely to result in choking incidents.
Choking Injuries in a Missouri Nursing Home Should be Reviewed by Our St. Louis Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Lawyer
Choking incidents in nursing homes are usually due to negligent and even reckless, conduct by nursing home staff members. Sometimes, though, staffing shortages don’t permit enough staff members to adequately supervise those at risk for choking and that is the fault of the ownership that far too often purposefully understaffs a nursing home to increase their own profit. Whenever a resident of a nursing home or rehabilitation center suffers personal injuries or a wrongful death due to a choking incident, it is important that family members call our St. Louis nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer at the Terry Law Firm by dialing (314) 334-1441 to perform a FREE evaluation to determine whether a resident’s rights have been violated.