A simple mealtime could become deadly when nursing homes and medical care facilities do not properly supervise their patients. Many elderly and disabled patients have difficulty swallowing during mealtime and must be on specific diets to prevent choking on their food. When nursing homes or medical facilities neglect to enforce these diet restrictions or do not take careful care to watch for difficulties swallowing in patients, there is a high risk of choking and possible death.
Choking occurs when food, medicine, or other obstruction blocks the windpipe, causing the person not to receive necessary air. Many patients with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other cognitive impairments cannot eat safely on their own; as well as patients with cancer and the simple toll that aging takes on the muscles in the throat and mouth can cause swallowing to be much harder. For these patients, along with many others, the personnel at the care facility must assist and monitor them while they eat to ensure that they are swallowing safely. Despite federal requirements that care facilities maintain adequate staff, many residents do not get the assistance that they need and deserve.
According to Huffington Post, preventable deaths in care facilities have almost quadrupled in the past decade, and choking and suffocation continue to be among the leading causes of preventable death. Nursing homes across the country routinely avoid the punishment that they deserve by the State Department of Health for violations that contribute to premature resident deaths, despite federal guidelines strongly encouraging tough penalties. A study found that 40 percent of Ohio’s nursing homes are rates as one- or two-star homes—the 10th highest percentage of low-rated homes in the nation. This means that four in ten are delivering at a deplorably low level of service, which should be a red flag.
While a choking injury could appear to be accidental, Rinehardt Law Firm can hold the care facilities accountable. If choking occurred while the resident was not being properly monitored, it is the sole fault of the care facility. Choking, even if accidental, can lead to a loss of oxygen flow to the brain, which could lead to brain damage and possibly death; which is why it is so important for nursing home to enforce dietary restrictions and closely monitor patients who are at risk for choking during meal times.
There are a variety of ways that a nursing home can be held accountable for a choking incident. If a staff member(s) fails to comply with a patient’s dietary guidelines and/or does not provide the proper supervision is the most common liability, however, if staff does not follow medical orders, or if a care facility is understaffed or is staffing underqualified personnel, Rinehardt Law Firm can and will hold the care facility responsible for their role in your loved one’s choking injury.
The Rinehardt Law Firm personal injury attorneys in both Mansfield and Columbus fight to hold care facilities accountable for abusing or neglecting patients. To simply say that, “these things happen, these are fail, vulnerable people” is not good enough. If your loved one has suffered an injury due to the negligence of others at a care facility, call us to determine what legal options are available for your case.