Choking Death Lawsuits Against Nursing Homes

elderly choking attorney

A choking death inside a nursing home is evidence of nursing home negligence. Vulnerable residents living inside long term care facilities should not choke to death while in a healthcare facility.

If your loved one suffered a nursing home choking wrongful death, contact Senior Justice Law Firm today for a completely free case consultation.

Nursing home negligence cases are all that we handle and we have successfully prosecuted numerous nursing home choking death claims. Let our compassionate attorneys help your family achieve justice.

Live chat with our office now, or call us at 888-375-9998. All consultations are free and we only get paid if we win your case.

Choking Deaths in Nursing Homes

As nursing homes continue to put profits before people, it is not surprising that choking continues to be a leading cause of death in nursing homes. Patients with cognitive impairments (Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, stroke survivors, and Parkinson’s disease) are most at risk for choking related deaths.

Nursing home residents with these afflictions need special assistance with eating so they do not choke on their food. Nursing personnel should assist them to ensure that they can swallow their food properly and that too much food is not put in their mouth at one time.

It is the responsibility of the nursing home staff to give any eating assistance needed. In fact, in Medicare and Medicaid residents, nursing homes are actually paid more money per day if the resident requires assistance with eating.

The nursing homes certainly bill Medicare for the extra care provided, however, oftentimes, they do not provide the higher level of eating assistance. This is the cancerous root cause of most nursing home choking deaths.

Even if the choking may be considered accidental, the nursing home should be held accountable for failing to prevent the patient’s choking. This can be achieved by pursuing a nursing home choking negligence lawsuit.

Why Do Older Nursing Home Residents Choke on Food?

Recent studies confirm that “there is a strong association with dementia (including Alzheimer disease) and Parkinson disease [and choking in nursing home residents].” These diseases, which cause cognitive impairment, result in an inability for throat muscles to function properly.

This is why an elderly nursing home resident can choke on a small bite of chicken that they would have been able to eat without issue just 12 months ago.

Additionally, a lower amount of saliva can make heartier foods harder to swallow. This is why choking-prone residents should be given a sip of water in between bites.

Preventing Choking Deaths in Nursing Homes

elderly choking law firm

A medical professional/nurse should examine the patient and recommend an eating program for each specific patient. Options include initiating a pureed diet (consisting of foods that do not require chewing, like pudding) or initiating a feeding tube.

At the very least, at-risk nursing home patients should be monitored while eating to make sure they do not choke.

Is the food soft enough, cut into small enough pieces, or easy to swallow? Is a staff member monitoring the person to prevent choking? Are they sitting upright while chewing and swallowing? Merely changing a patient’s position minimizing choking hazards.

Lastly, reaction time to a nursing home choking incident is also critical. When a nursing home patient is choking, staff members have a very limited time to act to avoid permanent brain damage or even death. 911 should be called immediately.

Also, staff should try to clear the airway, remove the food if they can, and if not, immediately perform the Heimlich maneuver. Due to the frequency of choking in nursing homes, staff must be properly trained on how to respond.

Clogged Feeding Tubes and Choking on Medications

The above choking precautions apply not only to food-related choking but also to medication and feeding tubes. Many times we see residents who tragically choked to death on medications or a clogged feeding tube, all because the staff was not properly monitoring the patient in their time of need.

All tubes (feeding tubes and breathing tubes) must be properly maintained, cleaned, properly functioning, and free of any clogs. A clogged tube is a death sentence for a vulnerable nursing home resident.

10 Ways to Prevent Choking in a Nursing Home Resident

  1. All nursing home residents must be assessed on admission, and periodically throughout their residency, for choking risk
  2. Nutritionist consultations should be scheduled for compromised patients
  3. Special diets, like mechanical soft diets, must be implemented if the patient is at risk for choking on thicker foods
  4. Pureeing normal foods, or julienne cutting foods, in an effort to reduce the surface area of food and prevent choking
  5. Ensuring breathing tubes, feeding tubes, and G tubes are clear and free from blockages
  6. Regardless of diet, an at-risk resident should receive observation while eating to ensure he or she does not choke
  7. In very high risk patients, physical assistance with eating and drinking should be performed by nursing home staff
  8. Assisting a choking-risk patient with a sip of water in between taking bites of food greatly reduces choking 
  9. If a resident starts to choke on food, the nursing home staff must react quickly and dislodge the food in the airway, or perform the Heimlich maneuver
  10. Even if the food appears to be dislodged, 911 should be called immediately as a safety precaution

Nursing Home Choking Lawsuit

Tragic accidents can happen. But preventable choking incidences at nursing homes need to be reported and acted upon. There is no excuse for a person to die after choking on food in a nursing home.

If this happened to your loved one, make your voice heard by investigating the incident. If staff members at the facility are not paying proper attention to the patients at mealtime, especially choking risk patients, you need to report the patient neglect immediately. If not, the facility will get away with neglect and another resident will be doomed to suffer the same fate.

If you tragically had a family member choke to death at a nursing home, let our experienced and narrowly focused nursing home abuse attorneys help your family.

Contact our law firm today to speak about your potential nursing home choking wrongful death claim. Speak with the highly-experienced nursing home choking accident attorneys at Senior Justice Law Firm for your free choking case evaluation at 888-375-9998. You can also live chat with our office now using the chat feature.

Nursing Home Abuse Co-Counsel Lawyers

Nursing Home Choking Attorneys