A nursing home resident died as the result of choking, according to a lawsuit. The lawsuit, filed in Cook County, states that the man, a resident of Alden Estates of Orland Park, died after choking on his meal. The man lived at the nursing home in January, 2014 to recover from hip replacement surgery. According to the lawsuit, the nursing home was informed that the man was on a therapeutic diet and was at risk for choking. The man was served breakfast and about a half-hour later was found unresponsive with food in his mouth. He was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Choking Risks and the Elderly
The elderly may be at a higher risk for choking than other segments of the population. There are many reasons why the risk may be heightened in older individuals. Older people may have decreased saliva, making it more difficult to swallow. Elderly individuals take longer to chew and swallow their food, so rushed eating could be risky. Many elderly people wear dentures and sometimes they remove them, even while trying to eat. Diet restrictions could cause chewing problems. All of these factors could increase the risk of choking.
Diet and Choking Risk
Diet plays an important part in choking risks. There are a number of foods that may place elderly people at a higher risk for choking. These foods include:
· Steak · Hot Dogs · Pizza · Popcorn · Hard Candy · Bread · Chicken · Water · Cake · Crackers · Peanut Butter
Foods that are provided in large chunks require a great deal of chewing, which can be hard for some older people. Dry foods are not easily dissolved in the mouth because of decreased saliva. Water is thin, making it too easy to swallow improperly.
There are some measures that should be taken to help prevent choking. Assess the ability of the person to feed himself. When assistance is required during eating make certain that the food is offered in small, slow bites. Rushed eating could result in choking. Provide foods that are easier to eat. These include such items as ground meats, soups, applesauce, pudding, and gelatin. All foods should be cut into small pieces and the skin and other hard areas must be removed. Do not encourage talking while eating as this can lead to choking. Eat slowly, and do not allow someone to eat while lying down.
Nursing Home Neglect
In some instances, choking occurred due to lack of proper supervision. Nursing home residents may need special attention while eating their meals. Some patients need more help than others. Regardless, nursing homes must provide the type of care that each person requires. In this case, the man was left unattended while eating, even though he was known to be at a high risk for choking. The lawsuit alleges negligence and violation of the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act. If your loved one died as a result of choking in a nursing home you may be entitled to collection money for medical expenses and other damages. Contact the experienced legal team at Levin & Perconti for a consultation.
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