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Morton Law Offices, Chartered

5 Causes of Choking in Nursing Homes That Could Be Elder Abuse

As people become elderly, many experience difficulties swallowing pills and food. This means nursing home staff must supervise residents’ food intake and diets.  Unfortunately, choking remains one of the leading causes of nursing home patients’ deaths. Many nursing homes have insufficient staff to monitor patients and fail to train them in understanding choking dangers or in handling choking emergencies when they occur.

Patients At Risk of Choking

Many medical conditions can cause an elderly patient to have difficulty swallowing that can increase their risk of choking. Common disorders that can put a person at high risk include:

  • Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease
  • Dysphagia or difficulty swallowing
  • Stroke
  • Brain injuries
  • Cancer of the throat or mouth
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Lou Gehrig’s disease
  • Medications that cause dry mouth or excessive saliva
  • Objects in a breathing tube

Five Reasons for Choking Incidents in Nursing Homes

Sadly, many choking emergencies at nursing homes could be eliminated if nursing homes were more vigilant about preventing them. Common reasons patients choke that could be nursing home neglect include:

  • Lack of assistance. Residents who have problems swallowing need assistance and monitoring from nursing home staff members when eating, drinking or taking medication.
  • Dehydration. Patients can become dehydrated if staff does not ensure they drink enough fluids, leading to them having dry throats and difficulties swallowing.
  • Respiratory disease. Lung diseases, colds, pneumonia, or other respiratory conditions can cause a senior to produce more mucous, which can increase his risk for choking.
  • Breathing aids. If breathing tubes and oxygen tank tubes are faulty or poorly maintained, they can become obstructed, resulting in a patient having breathing and choking problems.
  • Medications. Some drugs can cause dry mouth or other side effects that could make it more difficult for a patient to swallow.

Swallowing problems can lead to serious medical conditions, such as malnutrition, dehydration, weight loss, and respiratory problems. The consequences can be life-threatening if a choking victim experiences oxygen deprivation for any length of time because it could result in permanent brain damage or death.

If a family member suffered injuries or died due to choking, it could have been caused by nursing home abuse. Your loved one could have a claim for compensation from the nursing home and its staff. Call me at 888.716.8021 to schedule a free consultation to learn about his legal options.