Guide to Nursing Home Choking Accidents

Posted on behalf of Jeff Pitman on September 7, 2017 in Nursing Home Abuse
Updated on April 25, 2024

nursing home resident about to eatNursing home residents often have trouble chewing and swallowing their food, which can lead to choking. This can cause a loss of oxygen to the brain that can lead to serious brain damage and possibly death.

This is why it is so important for nursing homes to enforce dietary restrictions and closely monitor residents who are at risk for choking. If they fail to do so, they could be held liable for any injuries or deaths that occur.

The Milwaukee nursing home neglect attorneys at Pitman, Kalkhoff, Sicula & Dentice fight to hold nursing homes accountable for abusing or neglecting residents. If your loved one suffered a choking injury, call us to determine what legal options are available. We take cases on a contingency fee basis. This means you do not pay unless we recover compensation on your behalf.

Causes of Choking Accidents in Nursing Homes

Choking occurs when food, medicine or another obstruction blocks the windpipe so that the person does not receive necessary air. Choking is particularly common in the elderly population. This is often because many elderly individuals have health problems that can interfere with their ability to safely swallow, including:

  • Neurological damage – Strokes, spinal injuries and brain damage can all impact a person’s ability to swallow.
  • Neurological disorders – Medical impairments such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and muscular dystrophy can make chewing and swallowing more difficult.
  • Cancer – This includes cancer of the mouth, throat and other parts of the body. Cancer treatments like radiation may also make it more difficult to eat and swallow.
  • Alzheimer’s disease Alzheimer’s, dementia and other cognitive impairments are more common in elderly individuals.
  • Aging – As a person ages, his or her throat muscles may not be as strong, causing chewing and swallowing to be more difficult.

It only takes a few moments for choking to result in long-lasting consequences, so it is important that nursing home staff members are familiar with the various factors that contribute to choking and that they respond quickly if an emergency arises.

Special Considerations Involving Breathing Tubes

Some nursing home residents cannot breathe on their own without the help of a respiratory tube or ventilator. Some residents use these machines only on occasion while others rely on them constantly.

Patients who use these devices are at an increased risk of choking because these devices can become blocked by food, phlegm or other objects, which restrict or block air from reaching a resident’s windpipe. Medical staff must be familiar with these machines and how to properly maintain them to prevent choking.

Liability for Choking Incidents

There are a variety of reasons why a nursing home could be held liable for a choking incident, including:

  • Staff failing to comply with the patient’s dietary guidelines
  • Not properly maintaining or cleaning breathing tubes
  • Not providing supervision
  • Not following medical orders
  • Understaffing
  • Unqualified personnel

Contact a Nursing Home Neglect Lawyer

When a family makes the difficult decision to place a loved one in a nursing home, they do it with the belief that nursing home staff members will use their education and training to provide proper care. Unfortunately, there are far too many times when nursing homes fail to do this, resulting in neglect or abuse.

If your loved one had a choking incident or was the victim of another form of abuse or neglect, contact the qualified nursing home attorneys at Pitman, Kalkhoff, Sicula & Dentice.

We provide a free, no-obligation consultation to review your claim and determine if you may be able to pursue compensation against a nursing home for negligent care.

Call us at 414-333-3333  to get started on your claim today.

Back to top