Choking Incidents in Colorado Nursing Homes

Nursing homes and their staff should understand the risk of choking to ensure all residents are in good hands. Certain residents have a higher risk for choking than others, and if staff members ignore a resident’s needs, it could decrease their quality of life and possibly result in their death. You have a right to pursue justice with a nursing home abuse lawyer.

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Nursing Home Justice Helps You Recover from Your Choking Incident

Choking incidents are widespread in nursing home facilities and result from various causes. Poor supervision and lack of staff training could all contribute to these incidents. Having an attorney who understands these cases enables you to recover total compensation for your damages.

Nursing Home Justice is a nursing home abuse and neglect law firm that doesn’t back down from negligent nursing facilities and their insurance companies.

Our lead attorney, Mac Hester, has over 35 years of legal experience and handles each case with the attention it deserves. He has compassion for nursing home abuse and neglect victims and personally guides you through the claims process.

Contact Mac Hester with Nursing Home Justice Today – (303) 775-8128

Choking Incident Statistics

Choking is the accidental swallowing of saliva, food, drink, or a lodged foreign object in a person’s airways that obstructs airflow to the lungs. In the United States, choking is the fourth leading cause of unintentional death. While young children and infants are among the most common choking victims, older populations also suffer.

Out of the 3,000 people who suffered choking-related deaths in 2020, nearly half (1,430) were older than 74. This fact raises much concern given the fact that the average age of a nursing home resident is 65+ years old, and studies show that 50% to 75% of nursing home residents have some difficulty swallowing.

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Risk Factors Associated with Choking in Nursing Homes

A resident’s age, medical condition, and other factors influence their choking risk. As people age, they often experience dry mouth because of their inability to produce saliva. Furthermore, the medications nursing home residents might have to take could cause their mouths to dry up, making it harder for them to swallow their food.

Certain medical conditions, like Parkinson’s or Dementia, could also increase a resident’s risk for choking. Additionally, recent complications, such as a stroke, could impair a resident’s motor functions and make them unable to eat or drink independently.

Another health condition that makes it difficult and sometimes painful to eat or drink is dysphagia. This condition affects the neural control or the structures involved in any part of the swallowing process and impacts up to 40% of people in permanent-care settings. Cancer treatment, stroke, or other disorders could cause a resident to develop dysphagia.

The Dangers of Choking in Nursing Homes

Choking has severe consequences, even if the obstruction is dislodged. You might have passed out for several minutes while emergency responders performed CPR. When your brain receives insufficient oxygen for extended periods of time, your brain cells begin to die, resulting in permanent brain damage. That’s why you should continue seeking medical care even if the object was successfully dislodged.

If staff members failed to recognize the signs of choking or were absent altogether, your loved one could have suffered a wrongful death. If this is true in your case, the nursing home and its staff could be liable.

How to Prevent Choking in Nursing Homes

Staff members should know the unique needs of each resident. Some residents might require around the-clock-assistance with daily activities, such as eating and drinking, to prevent them from choking.

Staff members must cater to these needs and provide residents with food that’s easy to swallow, like pureed vegetables or fruits. Staff members should refrain from giving residents any food with a high choking risk, such as raw vegetables, thick pieces of meat, or uncut grapes.

In addition to providing residents with the right food, staff members must monitor how fast a resident is eating to ensure they’re chewing entirely before swallowing.

Staff Members Should Know the Signs of Choking

Staff members should look out for any signs of choking, which include the following:

  • Gagging
  • Clutching the throat
  • Lips turning blue or face turning red
  • Wheezing or unusual breathing sounds
  • Inability to speak
  • Collapse

Staff Members Should Be Trained to Save Choking Residents

Staff members have seconds to respond if a resident appears to be choking. They must be trained in proper maneuvers to dislodge the foreign object, such as the Heimlich Maneuver. If the resident becomes unconscious, staff members should perform CPR with chest compressions and rescue breaths. During this time, nursing home staff members should contact 911 to ensure the resident receives the medical attention they need.

Who’s Liable for Choking Incidents in Nursing Homes?

Several parties could be liable for a choking incident, including the following:

  • Staff Members – If nursing home staff members fail to monitor at-risk residents closely, and choking occurs, they could be liable.
  • Nursing Home Facilities – Nursing homes must ensure policies and procedures are in place to handle choking incidents. Staff members should know how to perform the Heimlich maneuver and CPR to save a resident’s life.
  • Nursing Home Management Companies – Nursing homes are mismanaged throughout the country. These companies are in charge of hiring, training, and staff supervision. If they put profits over resident safety, they could be liable for a choking incident.
  • Nursing Home Chain Entities – Nursing home management companies and facilities are all run by large chain organizations. These profit-motivated companies could share fault for negligent nursing homes under their control.

What Compensation Can You Recover?

Choking may have caused the death of your loved one, requiring you to seek compensation through a wrongful death claim. Even in cases where death did not occur, residents could have suffered significant brain damage due to a lack of oxygen. You might be eligible to recover from the following damages:

  • Current and ongoing medical bills
  • Permanent impairment
  • Long-term care expenses
  • Mental and emotional suffering
  • Physical pain

If you’re pursuing a wrongful death claim, you could recover from the following:

  • Loss of financial support the decedent would have provided the surviving spouse or family members (e.g., the decedent was a rehab patient who was going to return to work)
  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Damages for grief and loss of companionship

How Nursing Home Justice Can Help You

Given the sensitive nature of these situations, we take a very personal approach to every case. Our goal as a law firm isn’t to handle a wide caseload but to instead give each victim the attention their case deserves. Nursing Home Justice will help you in the following ways:

  • We’ll Meet & Listen to Your Story – Our lead attorney Mac Hester will meet with you personally to hear how your injuries have impacted your life. We’ll then clearly explain the next steps in the process.
  • We’ll Conduct a Thorough Investigation – We know the evidence you need to prove the at-fault party’s negligence. We’ll determine whether the nursing home, staff members, or corporate entities are to blame.
  • We’ll Help You Recover Financial Compensation – You could have many medical bills and other damages that require financial compensation. We’ll fight for your full recovery.