Choking accidents are common in nursing homes because of neglect, negligence, and the poor health of residents. In addition to the numerous health conditions that can cause choking accidents, many incidents of choking are caused by employees who are not careful enough when feeding the patients.
Some elderly people do not have proper teeth, gums, or facial muscles to safely feed themselves without supervision. As such, employees need to be there to make sure they can eat and drink without choking.
Dysphagia in the Elderly
According to the Mayo Clinic, “dysphagia” is the general medical term used to describe difficulty eating, drinking, or swallowing. This condition is most commonly seen in elderly individuals, especially those who are already weakened by other health conditions.
Some elderly patients may experience pain when attempting to eat, causing extensive complications that may lead to dangerous eating habits. For other sufferers, they may be completely unable to eat without assistance from nursing home staff. Dysphagia does not even account for the various psychological conditions that may affect a patient’s ability to safely eat without choking.
When determining what causes choking in nursing homes, the answer may vary between cases. According to studies from the Geriatrics, the most common causes of choking among elderly people include:
- Lack of saliva
- Mobility issues
- Difficulty moving fingers or hands, which affects the person’s ability to use utensils
- Poor posture
- Issues inside the mouth, which make it difficult to chew
- Certain medications that affect the mind, muscles, and diaphragm
- Infections of the lungs
How Do You Avoid Choking Accidents in Nursing Homes?
Choking accidents can be avoided with increased attention on the patients, more education for employees, and better healthcare practices. Overall, nursing homes are unique environments that have proven to be breeding grounds for choking hazards. Depending on the patient’s unique medical diagnosis and physical abilities, a specialized feeding program may need to be developed to prevent choking on a daily basis.
Unfortunately, choking accidents have numerous causes, so the solution to preventing them is complicated. Some of these solutions involve the employees who care for the patients, while other remedies involve changing other environmental factors that contribute to choking accidents. However, one thing is for certain—nursing home patients cannot be left up to their own devices when it comes to their healthcare and eating habits.
For nursing home employees, here are some remedies that may help prevent these choking accidents:
- Patients should not eat and drink at the same time.
- Encourage the patients to focus on their food instead of external distractions like television or board games.
- Patients should take their time instead of rushing through their meals.
- Teach proper posture while eating and do not allow patients to eat while lying down.
- Increase the lighting in areas where patients are being fed, which helps prevent confusion.
- Inform the patients that they should not talk while eating or drinking.
- Learn more about the digestive system and how food should be ingested.
- The food should be taken in smaller bites, which need to be properly chewed before swallowing.
Nursing home employees should be appropriately trained to carry out their work-related responsibilities. If nursing homes fail to prevent a choking accident, they may be held liable for the consequences of their negligence.
Call a Las Vegas Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Today
Here at Bernstein & Poisson, we know that choking in nursing homes is a serious issue. Our law firm can help you uncover the truth behind your accident. To learn more about taking legal action after a choking accident, contact a Bernstein & Poisson team member today at (702) 633-3333 to get started with your free consultation.