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Who May Be Liable in a Nursing Home Choking Incident?

Losing your loved one to an incident that could have easily been prevented is devastating. It’s even more overwhelming if the death occurs in a facility that is supposed to take excellent care of its residents, like nursing homes. One type of wrongful death that may occur in a nursing home is when a resident chokes.

While choking becomes more prevalent as we grow older due to changes related to aging, such as lack of saliva or any other conditions that could impair eating and lead to choking, it still should be preventable while your loved one is being watched over. If your loved one was involved in a choking incident at a nursing home, Dalli & Marino, LLP can also help you secure justice and even compensation if negligence was involved. 

Causes of Choking Incidences Among Nursing Home Residents

Choking incidents are easily preventable, but it requires the people responsible for taking care of our loved ones to actually pay attention to their residents. While it’s easy to assume that the nursing home attendants will do their job, there are some instances of neglect that could end up causing the choking injury or death of a loved one. 

Insufficient Assessment Procedures

It is standard procedure for nursing homes to conduct assessments for all their new residents in various aspects like physical, oral, psychological, and social health. An oversight in correctly assessing them leads to failure in noting conditions that may cause choking incidents.  

Poor Food Preparation

Because of the numerous health conditions senior citizens may suffer from, they will usually have a special diet that suits their specific condition. These could be soft or puréed foods that let them have an easier time chewing and swallowing. If the nursing home staff fails to adhere to the food preparation needs of the residents, then it’s only a matter of time before one with difficulty swallowing meets a choking incident.

Poor Feeding Tube Management

For residents who receive their nourishment via nasogastric feeding tubes, it’s imperative that the nursing home staff cleans and properly monitors them to avert instances of food getting stuck in them. A clogged feeding tube can put an at-risk resident into further problems related to choking.   

Who Is Liable for Choking Incidents?

If your loved one was involved in a choking incident and was either injured or passed away, then you have several options for which you can seek justice. Your first option is to file a claim against the responsible staff member. Whether they were directly or indirectly involved in the death of your loved one, they may still be held liable. This may include staff who:

  • Failed to follow the proper way of preparing your loved one’s food to prevent choking
  • Failed to supervise the deceased during meal times
  • Committed other negligent acts as they were purporting to care for your loved one

The grounds you have to sue depend on your exact circumstances. Regardless of whether someone is directly or indirectly responsible for your loved one’s death, you have grounds to sue for the nursing home’s inability to mitigate avoidable harm. The grounds to support such a suit include:

  • Negligence in food preparation for the prevention of choking
  • Failure to train nurses on the proper choking mitigation processes and emergency life-saving measures
  • Hiring poorly trained staff

Depending on the procedures at the nursing facility, you can also include the failure to implement policies to prevent choking for certain types of at-risk residents. Their assessment, or lack thereof, should have given them a clear indication of the way forward with regard to feeding.  

What Evidence Do You Need?

The opposing side will try and refute the case in any way possible, meaning you need irrefutable evidence, which may include:

  • A video recording or any photos of the choking incident
  • The resident’s medical records
  • Autopsy report detailing the manner and mechanism of death if your loved one passed away
  • Witness accounts of the events surrounding the choking. These could be other residents, the nursing staff, or visitors who were present during the incident. 

You may be able to sue for damages to cover medical bills, disability, reduced quality of life, along with pain and suffering.  

Contact Experienced New York Nursing Home Lawyers at Dalli & Marino, LLP Today

At Dalli & Marino, LLP, we take on every nursing home abuse claim with the seriousness it deserves. Through our decades of experience, we will be able to fight for your and your loved one’s rights following a choking incident.

Choking incidents can create major hardships, and you and your family deserve justice. To know how we can help, please call us at (888) 465-8790 or fill out our contact form today.

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