For those who live in nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities, swallowing food is often difficult. There are many different conditions that could affect a person’s ability to swallow, including neurological disorders, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. Simply getting older can also wear down the muscles and nerves of the throat, making it hard for some elderly patients to swallow normally. Issues with swallowing dramatically increase the risk of choking, which means that nursing homes must take precautions to protect at-risk patients.
Not Just an Accident
For a healthy person, an incident of choking is usually just an accident. A piece of food may “go down the wrong way” or a person might be talking or doing something else while eating, which could lead to choking. For a resident of a nursing home, it is possible for a choking event to occur as an accident, but many cases are caused by a lack of proper monitoring. In short, the facility staff should have taken steps to prevent the resident from choking but failed to do so.
The Duty of the Nursing Home
Upon admission to a nursing facility, a new resident must undergo a series of assessments so that the staff understands the resident’s condition, along with his or her needs. The results of these assessments are used to create a care plan customized to address the resident’s specific risk factors.
The resident’s care plan should include addressing known issues with breathing, chewing, or swallowing. Depending on the circumstances, the resident could be limited to “safe” foods or require monitoring while eating. The facility is also expected to conduct periodic re-assessments to look for any changes in the resident’s condition and to update the care plan. As a result, the facility should be aware of a resident’s decreasing ability to swallow easily.
Nursing Home Liability
If you have a loved one in a nursing home who at risk for choking, it is important to make sure that the facility is following all proper safety procedures. The nursing staff is responsible for ensuring that your loved one is only given food that he or she can eat safely. Similarly, it is the responsibility of the staff to be on the lookout for signs that your loved one is choking and to take immediate corrective action. If staff members are negligent in any of these responsibilities, the facility could be held liable for any injuries that your loved one suffers as a result.
Call an Illinois Nursing Home Injury Attorney
For more information about collecting compensation for your loved one’s choking injuries, contact a Chicago nursing home neglect lawyer. Call 312-535-5625 for a free consultation and case evaluation at Schwartz Injury Law today. We will help you understand your options and work with you in seeking justice for your injured loved one.