Mealtimes can become deadly when nursing homes do not properly supervise or monitor the food intake of their patients. Many elderly and disabled persons have difficulty swallowing and must be on restrictive diets to prevent choking on their food. When nursing homes neglect to enforce diet restrictions or do not watch for difficulties swallowing in susceptible patients, there is a risk of choking and even death.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers regularly prosecutes choking and asphyxiation cases against Chicago skilled nursing facilities. Our office has two nurses on staff which allows us to evaluate your skilled nursing case quickly and fully prosecute the matter when there is evidence of negligence. Contact our law firm for a free case review of your Chicago nursing home choking case today.
Swallowing disorders are prevalent amongst elderly and disabled patients. It takes 50 pairs of muscles and nerves to allow a person to swallow and many different conditions can affect a person’s ability to swallow. Some disorders that can interfere with swallowing are:
- Neurological disorders. Many neurological disorders can have an impact on swallowing, such as multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and Parkinson’s disease.
- Neurological damage. Strokes and brain or spinal injuries can affect a person’s ability to swallow.
- Alzheimer’s disease. Late stage Alzheimer’s patients can often have difficulty swallowing and eating.
- Cancer. Certain types of cancers can lead to swallowing issues as well as the treatment of cancer, such as radiation.
- Aging. General wear and tear on the throat muscles over time can make it difficult for the elderly to swallow. Elderly are also more likely to have other ailments that hinder swallowing.
In a nursing home setting, patients that are having difficulty swallowing will generally be examined by a physician to determine the issue. The physician will then make recommendation on what types of food the patient can eat and in what form. These should be put on the nursing home patients chart so that all caregivers are aware of their special needs.
If the patient with the swallowing disorder is allowed foods or medications that the physician restricted or is not watched closely, choking and asphyxiation can occur.
Choking occurs when foods or medications go into the windpipe instead of the esophagus and cut off the air supply. When this happens, there is a short window of time for nursing home staff to administer aid before there is permanent damage or even death.
It is the duty of the nursing home to ensure that patients adhere to the medical orders outlined by their physician and properly supervises patients with medical issues. So many choking incidences at nursing homes could have been easily prevented if only the medical orders were followed for the patient.Special Considerations for Patients With Clogged Breathing Tubes
For some nursing home patients unable to breath on their own, the use of a ventilator or breathing machine is necessary. Some of these patients are completely reliant on a fully operational machine to support their needs — 24-hours per day.
In order to keep patients with breathing tubes safe, staff caring for these especially vulnerable group of patients must receive specialized training on the maintenance and cleaning of breathing tubes (endotracheal tubes).
When breathing tubes become dirty and clogged with phlem or a machine malfunctions, a patient is at risk for severe complications such as choking or oxygen deprivation that can result in brain damage or death in a matter of minutes.Chicago Nursing Home Liability When A Patient Chokes During an Admission to a Facility
If a family member or loved one has choked or asphyxiated while under the care of a Chicago nursing home, we invite you to meet for a free consultation with one of our Illinois nursing home abuse lawyers. Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers has a skilled team of nursing home experts that can work to build a case if the nursing home is found to have neglected to prevent the choking or to come to aide the patient. We work on a contingency fee basis so there is no fee unless we obtain a financial recovery for you and your loved one.
Resources regarding the prevention of choking in nursing homes: