It is unacceptable for a Florida nursing home resident to suffer a choking death while in the care of skilled nursing staff. The simple truth is that most choking deaths are easily avoidable. If your loved one has endured such an experience, get in touch with Distasio Law Firm right away.
Our knowledgeable elder abuse attorneys specialize in nursing home negligence cases, and they have recovered damages on prior wrongful death claims involving choking incidents. Reach out now to speak with a Florida nursing home choking victim lawyer from our firm. Our consultation services are free, and we will treat you with care as we seek justice for your loved one together.
Many nursing home and assisted living facility residents in Florida and throughout the country have swallowing problems and disorders. The medical term for this condition is called Dysphasia. If the swallowing problem is neglected, the person suffering from this condition can choke on their food, liquids, or medication. The worst cases of choking can lead to lack of oxygen to the brain, brain damage, and even death.
Florida Nursing Home Hotdog Choking Death Case Settlement of $1,700,000.00
The resident was suffering from dysphasia and required a pureed or chopped up diet to prevent the person from choking. The facility failed to provide this simple necessary intervention. On day one a family member arrived just in time to find the resident choking on a whole hotdog that was not ground up. The next day at lunch time, a nurse found her once again choking on food which was not puréed or grounded properly. The nurse actually saved the resident’s life by performing the Heimlich maneuver. Unfortunately, someone later that evening found her in her room dead. An autopsy revealed a large unchopped piece of meat from a hotdog lodged in her throat. The pathologist concluded she died because she choked to death.
Death by Choking in a a Nursing Home or Assisted Living Facility Is Unacceptable
As nursing home care continues to prioritize profits over people, choking remains a leading cause of death in nursing homes. Patients with cognitive impairments, such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke survivors, and Parkinson’s disease are at the highest risk for choking related deaths. Nursing personnel must ensure these residents get the proper diet. The must also provide assistance while eating in order to ensure that these residents do not take too much food into their mouths at once and swallow their food properly.
In fact, the federal Medicare and Medicaid programs allot for an increased amount to be paid per day if assistance is needed with eating. Despite this extra payment intended to guarantee higher levels of assistance with eating given to qualifying patients, some nursing homes continue to neglect providing appropriate levels of support.
While some choking incidents may be accidental, many times it can be attributed to negligence on the part of the care facility or staff. Nursing home staff must take appropriate measures and proper precautions to ensure that residents are not at risk for choking. Should an incident occur due to negligence, victims, or their family members, may pursue a nursing home choking negligence lawsuit with the assistance of a seasoned Florida attorney.
The Most Vulnerable Nursing Home Patients Are the Most Often Neglected
Many physical conditions and diseases can lead to a person having difficulty swallowing. The most common conditions linked to swallowing issues include:
- Parkinson disease
- Neurological disorders
People with these conditions need extra care to make sure all their needs are met. When a nursing home staff member fails to provide such care, a diligent lawyer from our firm in Florida can fight to ensure the choking victim is compensated appropriately.
Nursing Home Understaffing Leads to Patients Choking From Neglect
When a person has dysphasia, it is usually because they are just not physically capable of chewing and or swallowing regular food, liquids, and medications. If proper care is not given they will choke. Fortunately, these simple solutions usually solve the problem:
- One on one supervision while eating
- Thickened liquids
- Pureed food
- Crush pills mixed in applesauce or pudding
Although the solutions are simple, implementing those solutions in a nursing home or assisted living facility that is understaffed can be quite difficult. Understaffed facilities simply do not have enough time to properly ensure residents with swallowing problems have their special needs met. In the rush to care for everyone these special needs residents often suffer from neglect. Staff members forget to thicken liquids, puree food, and crush medicine. They also skip the one-on-one supervision these residents need to provide care to other residents.
Clogged Feeding Tubes and Patients Choking on Medications in a Nursing Home
At nursing homes, monitoring of residents is critical to prevent choking. It is important to take precautions regarding not just food-related choking, but also related to medications and tubes in the patient’s body. All tubes should be properly functioning and free of clogs; a clogged tube can have life-threatening consequences for a vulnerable resident. Therefore, staff should use the utmost caution when it comes to maintaining and cleaning all types of tubes used by residents.
Choking Deaths in Nursing Homes Can Be Prevented
In order to determine if a resident needs a special diet, a medical professional called a speech therapist will evaluate the patients eating habits, ability to feed themselves, and ability to swallow various types of food and liquid. After the evaluation, a care plan should be developed to address the patient’s eating needs. The care plan might include supervising the resident while eating to protect them from choking. It might also include a special diet or the use of a feeding tube. Diet types include pureed, mechanically chopped, or soft. Fluid types include thickened liquids.
In emergency situations where a patient is choking, time is essential; 911 must be contacted immediately and the Heimlich maneuver should instantly be administered if necessary. Staff should also make efforts to clear out the constricted airway where possible and withdraw the obstructing food item from the mouth or throat with proper technique if able. Lastly, CPR may have to be administered until the resident normal breathing is restored.
Proper staff training is also very important. Staff should be trained on a regular basis. Training should include:
- How to supervise residents at risk for choking
- How to spot a resident that might need supervision while eating
- How to spot a resident that is choking, and
- How to perform life saving measures when a resident is choking
A proactive attorney in Florida can investigate a specific assisted living facility to determine whether proper training was provided to staff members to prevent resident choking deaths.
10 Ways to Prevent A Nursing Home Resident from Choking
- When it comes to patient safety, all nursing home residents must receive a choking risk assessment upon admission and regularly be re-assessed while they continue their residency.
- If at any time a patient is deemed as compromised, nutritionist consultations should be scheduled right away.
- Special diets may need to be implemented to reduce the chance of choking – this can range from softer foods like purees or small cut versions of regular meals.
- Special soft diets should be implemented if the patient has a risk of choking on thicker foods.
- Medical feeding tubes should be checked and remain free from blockages.
- Eating and drinking assistance should be provided by staff members for higher risk patients.
- Provide adequate observation during mealtimes.
- Assisting a choking-risk patient with a sip of water in between taking bites of food greatly reduces choking.
- If a resident is choking while consuming food, nursing home staff must act quickly to either dislodge the food from the airway.
- 911 should be called even if a choking hazard has been dislodged to ensure safety.
A Choking Victim Attorney Handles Cases Against Nursing Homes in Florida
Choking incidences in nursing homes should never be taken as normal. With proper care and attention, these tragedies can be easily avoided. However, if tragedy was incurred and the negligence of an individual or facility has been a cause, you need to make your voice heard and act swiftly.
Our experienced and specialized nursing home abuse attorneys at Distasio Law Firm are here to help you hold long term care facilities accountable for their wrongdoing. Whether a choking event left your loved one with serious neurological deficits or caused a wrongful death, get in touch with us today for your free case evaluation. A Florida nursing home choking victim lawyer will help you in finding and ensuring justice is served for your loved one who suffered from this terrible yet preventable incident.