Physical problems or mental impairments often cause elderly people to have difficulty swallowing. Regardless of the reason, if the problem is known to the nursing home, the resident should be assessed for what foods are safest for the resident to eat. At all times, the nursing home should monitor a resident who is a known choking risk while easting. The obvious danger to a resident with a problem swallowing is choking.
A nursing home resident who is at risk for choking should be assessed to see if their food should be pureed, which simply means that the food is blended or strained to make it a thick liquid, similar to pudding. Pureed food is safer for those at risk for choking and lessens the risk that the resident will experience injury or death due to choking. If a loved one choked while in a nursing home and had to be hospitalized or died because of the accident, you may be able to open a claim against the nursing home. Call our nursing home abuse lawyer in St. Louis, David Terry, today for a no-obligation consultation.
How Nursing Home Choking Happens in St Louis
Residents who are at risk for choking should be closely monitored by nursing home employees, especially at meals. Sadly, many nursing homes are insufficiently staffed, meaning residents who need assistance with eating or who should be monitored while eating are left to their own devices. As a result, those who are without the cognitive ability to feed themselves may take non-pureed food from another resident and choke when they are unable to swallow. Likewise, poorly trained staff members may not be aware of which residents are choking risks and provide improper food. Without proper supervision, residents may choke and suffer injuries.
Each of these items and many more create choking hazards for some vulnerable nursing home residents. It is the responsibility of the nursing home to insure that the facility is free of dangerous conditions that may cause harm to residents, including choking hazards.
Surprisingly, food is not the only item that creates choking risks for nursing home residents. Just like children, nursing home residents with mental insufficiency can put foreign objects in their mouths that create choking hazards. With children, we are told to keep small objects such Lego blocks, coins, and the like out of their reach. Nursing homes may not have Lego blocks, but elderly residents who lack the skills necessary to make good decisions may place seemingly common items in their mouths, such as:
- Rubber gloves
- Razor blades
- Pen caps
Each of these items and many more create choking hazards for some vulnerable nursing home residents.
What Happens When Someone Chokes?
It is the responsibility of the nursing home to insure that the facility is free of dangerous conditions that may cause harm to residents, including choking hazards. When a person chokes, they are unable to breathe making it impossible to get oxygen to the brain. When the brain is deprived of oxygen, the consequences can be catastrophic brain damage or even death. Whether the person has the mental capacity to understand what is happening or not, the fact remains that choking is scary and painful and can result in significant injuries, including death. If the resident was supposed to be monitored and choked as a result of the nursing home not fulfilling its responsibility, you may have a claim for nursing home abuse or neglect.
If you believe that your family member choked due to neglect by a nursing home, contact us immediately.