One of the most terrifying outcomes in an Illinois nursing home is having a parent or other loved one choke and suffer a wrongful death. Sadly, that happens more frequently than anyone might ever imagine.
Choking accidents occur in nursing homes due to declines in the resident’s ability to chew and swallow food. Some of the causes of this might include chronic illnesses and conditions, poor condition of the resident’s teeth, certain medications, and advancing dementia.
The health care professional most qualified to make an assessment of the resident’s ability to chew and swallow food safely is a speech therapist. However, to have a swallow assessment done, the resident’s doctor must make a referral to the speech therapist. This is most often done at the request of the nursing staff who is responsible for reporting changes in condition to the resident’s doctor.
A risk of choking is something that must be addressed in the resident’s care plan. One of the common measures taken to address choking risk can include using an alternate diet such as a puree diet or mechanical soft diet. Other measures may include changes in the medication regimen, getting needed dental care, and assigning the resident to a special table for residents who require assistance with feeding and eating to help ensure they are being fed the appropriate diet and to actually monitor for choking episodes.
When a nursing home resident experiences a choking episode, these are often much more serious than they are for healthy adults and are often be fatal. This is because nursing home residents often have underlying musculoskeletal, cardiac, or respiratory issues that detract from their ability to come through a choking episode in a nursing home successfully.
On the surface, these kinds of “accidents” may seem like just that – an accident. However, in a nursing home setting, the nursing home is required to assess the risk of harm to the resident and to care plan around that. However our experience in nursing home choking lawsuits has shown that specific care planning around choking risk is almost never done.
If you have a parent or loved one who was injured or killed in a nursing home choking accident, you need to be aware that there is a two year statute of limitations which applies to these kinds of cases. However, our recommendation that you not wait to hire an experienced Chicago nursing home lawyer applies with special force to choking cases. This is because the speech therapist plays a crucial role in evaluating choking risk for nursing home residents and they may also be held liable where appropriate for choking injuries and deaths of Illinois nursing home residents. Speech therapists are often employed by outside companies from the nursing home, meaning that their role in the case and the identity of the speech therapist and their employer must be determined well in advance of the statute of limitations.
Nursing home choking incidents are more common in Illinois nursing homes than you might imagine. These are some of the cases that our office has handled involving choking injuries and deaths in nursing homes:
Failure to Care Plan for Choking Risk Results in Death (Cook County)
Nursing Home Resident Chokes on Hot Dog (Macoupin County)
These are some of the other incidents which we have written about in our blog:
Choking cases occur more frequently than anyone might want to imagine. Please contact our law firm if you and your family are ready for assistance.