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Lawyers for Choking Injures & Fatalities in Nursing Homes: Chicago, Illinois

nursing-home-choking-hazardMealtimes can become deadly when nursing homes do not adequately supervise or monitor the food intake of their patients. Many elderly and disabled persons have difficulty swallowing and must live on restrictive diets to prevent choking on their food.

When nursing facilities neglect to enforce diet restrictions or do not watch for difficulties swallowing in susceptible patients, there is a risk of choking and death.

Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC regularly prosecutes choking and asphyxiation cases against nursing facilities in and around the Chicago area. Our law office has two nurses on staff, which allows us to evaluate your nursing case quickly and thoroughly prosecute the matter when there is evidence of negligence.

Contact our nursing home neglect attorneys for a free case review. We currently represent clients throughout the United States, Illinois, and in the following localities: Cook County, DuPage County, Kane County, Lake County, Peoria County, Sangamon County, Will County, Winnebago County, Chicago, Arlington Heights, Aurora, Naperville, Orland Park, and Schaumburg.

Prevalence of Conditions Contributing to Swallowing Disorders in the Elderly

Swallowing disorders are prevalent amongst elderly and disabled patients. Fifty pairs of muscles and nerves are required to swallow.

Many different conditions can affect a person's ability to swallow. Some disorders that can interfere with swallowing include:

  • Neurological disorders. Many neurological disorders can affect the ability to 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 challenges, as could the treatment of cancer, including radiation.
  • Aging. General wear and tear on the throat muscles over time can make it challenging for the elderly to swallow. The elderly are also more likely to have other ailments that hinder swallowing.

Nursing Home Choking Death FAQs

Common questions people ask concerning nursing home choking deaths include:

What is the Leading Cause of Death in Nursing Homes?

As of 2020, nursing home choking death rank is the fourth leading cause of the elderly receiving care in assisted-living facilities, nursing homes, and rehabilitation centers. Dementia is the leading cause of death in nursing facilities, followed by cardiac disease and cancer.

How Does Choking Lead to Death?

Choking can entirely or partially block the airway so that no oxygen can enter from the nose or mouth into the lungs. In less than six minutes, the brain can begin to die due to a lack of oxygen.

It is crucial to ensure that the victim receives oxygen within the first few minutes. After that, irreversible brain damage can occur. In as little as ten minutes, the brain dies.

What to do if the Elderly is Choking?

You can always help any teenager or adult using the Heimlich maneuver. Stand behind the choking victim a little to one side and use one of your hands to support their chest in front. Placing the heel of your hand between the choking victim's shoulder blades, give three, four, or five sharp blows before stopping to see if the blockage and the victim's throat has cleared.

If the victim is still choking, wrap your arms around the victim's abdomen and grasp one fist with the other hand. Give three, four, or five abdominal thrusts before checking to see if the blockage has cleared.

How Many People die From Choking in the United States?

Statistics reveal that in 2018, more than 5000 individuals in the United States choked to death. American now has the highest rate of elderly citizens and ever before and significantly more choking accidents that involve senior citizens.

Can You die From Choking on Your Vomit?

Death by asphyxiation is a severe problem among the elderly. Vomit caught in the throat can easily cause a blockage that prevents the flow of air into the lungs.

How do You Feel After Choking?

Choking on food or other objects that are trapped in the airway can cause significant damage to the airway's delicate lining. While the first sensation is the relief of improved breathing, however, over time, the airway may start swelling due to the damage caused by the choking event.

Choking Prevention Techniques to be Employed by Nursing Facilities

In a nursing home setting, physicians will often examine patients who are having difficulty swallowing to diagnose the problem. The physician might recommend what types of food the patient can eat and how the food will be prepared.

Any physician's orders, including meal preparation and prescription medications, should be included in the patient's plan of care to ensure that all caregivers are aware of the patient's unique needs.

Choking and asphyxiation can occur when patients with swallowing disorders are not closely monitored per physician's orders. Any medication errors or consumption of certain foods could lead to serious life-threatening problems.

Most choking incidents occur when foods or medications enter the windpipe instead of the esophagus and cut off the air supply. The nursing staff is a short window of time to administer aid when a choking incident occurs before there is permanent damage or death.

Nursing home staff members must ensure that patients adhere to the medical orders outlined by their physician and appropriately supervises every resident with medical issues. Many choking incidents could have been prevented easily if the staff and follow medical orders for the patient to avoid a nursing home injury.

Special Considerations for Patients With Clogged Breathing Tubes

The use of a ventilator or breathing machine is necessary for some nursing home patients who are unable to breathe without assistance. Some of these patients are entirely reliant on a fully operational machine to support their needs — 24-hours per day.

The staff and cares for especially vulnerable groups of patients must receive specialized training on the maintenance of cleaning breathing tubes (endotracheal tubes) to ensure patient safety. A patient could be at risk for severe complications.

The complications could include choking or oxygen deprivation, that can result in brain damage or death in a matter of minutes when breathing tubes become dirty and clogged with phlegm or the machine malfunctions.

Sample Illinois Nursing Home Choking Accident Lawsuits & Settlements

$525,000 Settlement; Choking Accident; Lake County, Illinois (Waukegan)

An eighty-five-year-old resident with Alzheimer's disease had severe limitations to chew and swallow properly. His doctors instructed the nursing staff to feed him soft foods and monitor when he was consuming at all times.

On one occasion, the nursing staff gave the resident pizza for lunch and dinner, believing that the meal qualified as a soft food. During these two meals, the staff did not provide supervision.

During his second meal, the resident choked on the pizza and died. His representatives sued the nursing facility, food catering company, and speech rehab professionals, arguing in their complaint that the defendants' combined negligence caused the man's death.

Further, they claimed that the defendants (nursing staff) veered from the doctors' strict instructions and that negligence directly led to his passing. The claimants argue that the facility failed to perform a Heimlich Maneuver.

While the defendants initially rejected the plaintiff's' claims, the facility agreed to a negotiated settlement of $525,000. Of the total amount of the settlement, the facility paid $415,000, and the remainder was paid by the speech rehab professionals and food catering company.

$200,000 Settlement; Choking Accident; Cook County, Chicago, Illinois

The eighty-four-year-old nursing home resident on dialysis followed his doctor's orders to consume a diet of thick liquids to prevent swallowing issues. The nursing home staff was required to use a feeding tube to give them his daily meals to accommodate his high risk of choking.

On one occasion, a staffer failed to follow the doctor's orders and treatment plan and fed the man orally instead of through the tube. Consequently, he choked and fell into cardio arrest before succumbing to his serious injuries.

His four surviving children brought a legal action under the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act, stating that the staff member and facility were negligent and caused their father's death. The plaintiffs sought compensation for all tangible and intangible damages caused by the defendants' conduct.

The victim's children argued that even though their elderly family member was old, the defendants reduced his quality of life and sped up his death wrongfully. The case was resolved through a negotiated settlement of $200,000 paid by the defendant to the plaintiffs.

$875,000 Settlement; Choking Accident; Chicago, Illinois (Cook County)

A 73-year-old Illinois nursing home resident who was labeled at risk for choking, and placed on a soft diet with supervision, choked on his lunch when the staff let him eat alone. The resident ate sausage that was cut up into small pieces.

While choking on his meal, the resident went into cardiac arrest and died. His five surviving children brought a case on his behalf, alleging multiple violations of the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act.

The children sought compensation for the nursing facility's negligence, medical malpractice, and their father's wrongful death. The plaintiffs' attorneys pointed out the home's apparent errors as proof of their claim.

For damages, the lawyers cited pain, lost companionship, expenses, and other losses. The case was resolved through a negotiated settlement of $875,000. Of that, the home's insurance company paid $825,000, and the company that was in charge of providing the man's diet paid $50,000.

$500,000 Settlement; Choking Accident; Chicago, Illinois

The forty-seven-year-old nursing home victim was admitted to the facility after suffering a stroke. The nursing home staff never updated his care plan to add safeguards to prevent choking, knowing he had lost a few teeth while at the facility.

Consequently, the victim choked on a hot dog given to him by the staff members. Those responding to the event thought the patient was having a seizure and never checked to see if he was choking.

This oversight caused life-threatening problems that led to cardiac and respiratory arrest. The airway blockage from the hot dog was not identified until paramedics tried to insert a tube down his throat.

The realization of what was happening came too late. The victim died from a lack of oxygen. His four surviving children brought an action against the nursing home, citing wrongful death. The plaintiffs sought compensation for the economic and non-economic loss that resulted in the negligence occurring by the nursing home staff.

The defendants and the plaintiffs agreed to a negotiated settlement of $500,000.

Chicago Nursing Home Liability When a Patient Chokes During an Admission to a Facility

Was a family member or loved one harmed by asphyxiation or choking injury while under the care of a Chicago nursing home? If so, our neglect lawyers invite you to meet for a free consultation with one of our Illinois nursing home abuse lawyers.

Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC has a skilled team of nursing home experts that can work to build a case on nursing home negligence if the long-term care facility failed to prevent the choking or did not provide aid to the distressed patient.

Our personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, so there is no fee unless we obtain a financial recovery for you and your loved one. We accept all personal injury claims involving nursing home patients, including bedsores, medical malpractice, slip and falls, medication errors, and wrongful death.

Call us today at 888-424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or use the contact form to schedule a free case evaluation. Your discussions with our law firm remain confidential through an attorney-client relationship.

Please do not send sensitive information to our law office in a text message, email, or voicemail. We follow social distancing rules, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health, to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Resources regarding the prevention of choking in nursing homes:

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