Choking isn’t just a frightening experience; it can lead to brain damage or even death. Unfortunately, elderly people have a heightened risk of choking. Because of numerous age-related changes, they are even more at risk than children or babies. One reason for this is that the muscles in the throat and esophagus get weaker over time.
Older people may also find it difficult to eat and swallow because of dry mouth, neurological disorders, degenerative diseases, gastroesophageal and gastrointestinal problems, and poor posture. In addition, dentures or missing teeth can cause large pieces of food to get stuck in the airways.
Given all these risk factors, nursing home owners, managers, and staff have a responsibility to minimize the risk of choking and respond promptly when it occurs. In the absence of preventative measures or an urgent response, choking can be fatal. If your loved one was seriously harmed after a choking incident, you may be able to hold the facility responsible.
Holding A Nursing Home Liable For A Choking Injury
Managers and caregivers in elder care facilities both have important roles to play in preventing and managing choking accidents. Both can be negligent, and this puts residents at a higher risk of suffering harm. If you believe someone’s actions or failure to act caused your elderly parent or relative to suffer harm, you need to contact a Lakeland nursing home abuse attorney as soon as possible.
Nursing homeowners and managers make the majority of the big decisions and they set the tone for other workers. They can be deemed negligent if they:
- Fail to properly screen employees
- Fail to train and retrain employees regularly
- Fail to establish strict caregiving schedules
- Fail to have adequate numbers of staff on duty
- Fail to install and maintain cameras and other devices to detect problems
The people in charge must take responsibility if their negligence caused your loved one to suffer an injury. However, the caregivers who were on-duty at the time of the incident may also share some of the blame.
Nursing home caregivers can be held liable if they:
- Took the job under false pretenses, such as claiming they have the training they actually don’t
- Failed to ask for additional training if they weren’t equipped for certain aspects of the job
- Failed to adhere to the caregiving schedule
- Failed to ask about residents’ wellbeing
- Failed to monitor residents at regular intervals
- Failed to carry out duties for which they were directly responsible
In addition to these broader failures, caregivers can also be more directly responsible for a resident’s choking. They have a duty to ensure that they reduce the risk of choking when residents are eating or drinking. A caregiver may be held liable for a choking accident if they:
- Urge the resident to eat quickly or to swallow large portions
- Fail to cut food into small portions
- Fail to ensure the resident is upright before they start to eat
- Fail to assist the resident during the eating process when necessary
- Fail to take of the resident’s individual risk factors
- Fail to administer abdominal thrusts, back blows, or otherwise act urgently when choking occurs
What To Do If You Believe Your Loved One Isn’t Getting Adequate Care
If you suspect your parent or relative is being harmed, you should:
- Document everything you see, hear, and do at the facility
- Talk to the staff about the type of food they serve your loved one
- Write to management about any problems you want to have corrected
- Consult a nursing home abuse attorney
Contact Burnetti, P.A. Today For Expert Legal Advice
If your parent or relative had a choking incident in a Lakeland nursing home, your loved one or your family may be eligible for compensation. However, it may not be easy to bring a successful claim against the facility. You will need help from an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer in Lakeland. Whether it’s a case of negligence on the part of the owner or manager or a case where a direct caregiver failed to ensure your loved one’s safety, you deserve to recover damages.
At Burnetti, P.A. we want to help you protect your loved one from further harm while also ensuring that your family is compensated for any negligence. Call us today to schedule a consultation. The sooner we can start collecting evidence, the better it will be for your case. Your first case review is free, and you only pay legal fees if we secure a settlement. You have nothing to lose by discussing your case with us.