Elderly Nursing Home Residents Are at Greater Risk of Developing Life-Threatening Aspiration Pneumonia
Elderly residents of nursing homes face greater risks of developing aspiration pneumonia when nursing home staff fails to adequately address their needs. This condition can be especially dangerous for them because they often must be hospitalized, and it could be fatal. Sadly, aspiration pneumonia is almost always preventable.
Who Is at Most Risk of Developing Aspiration Pneumonia?
Aspiration pneumonia is a type of pneumonia that develops when food gets backed up in the lungs, causing an infection or inflammation. People at high risk of contracting this condition include elderly residents with:
- weakened immune systems
- Alzheimer’s disease
- weak throat muscles who have difficulty swallowing
- an inability to chew well
- a feeding tube
- a need for staff to assist them with eating
- poor oral hygiene
- deficiencies caused by a stroke
How Nursing Home Neglect Contributes to Aspiration Pneumonia
When people first move into the nursing home and throughout their stay there, nursing home staff must assess their physical condition and needs. Staff should be fully aware of which residents are in danger of developing aspiration pneumonia and provide the appropriate level of care. Unfortunately, they sometimes fail to do this and engage in elder care neglect in the following ways:
- Failing to provide proper care. When nursing home staff does not supervise—and assist when necessary—with eating, residents are in danger of having food back up in their lungs and developing this life-threatening condition.
- Failing to diagnose. When staff does not spot the symptoms of aspiration pneumonia, like fever, shortness of breath, and coughing, patients fail to get the treatment they need. Staff can also be neglectful if they fail to have patients diagnosed through a chest X-ray and blood tests—standard diagnostic procedures.
- Failing to treat. Once patients are diagnosed, staff needs to treat the condition with powerful antibiotics, respiratory treatment, and oxygen to prevent residents from suffering further complications or death.
- Failing to immunize. Elderly patients—especially those at high risk of developing any type of pneumonia—should be vaccinated for pneumonia and influenza.
If you believe a family member is a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, I am here to help you fight for the compensation he deserves. Call me at 888.716.8021 today to schedule a free consultation.