If your loved one suffered serious or fatal injuries after a choking incident, Harvey & Foote Law Firm is here to provide the compassionate, capable support your family deserves.
Any choking incident poses serious health risks to older adults and can even be fatal if no one intervenes. In nursing homes, residents’ diets and special needs – including any difficulties chewing or swallowing certain types of food – should be addressed by staff in the hopes of avoiding choking hazards. Many of these incidents are preventable, but, unfortunately, some nursing homes do not do enough to protect their most vulnerable residents.
Your loved one may have been a victim of negligence, and, if so, we want to help you hold all responsible parties accountable and recover just compensation. Our experienced Albuquerque nursing home choking lawyers have a hometown advantage in handling these cases, having repeatedly taken on many of the worst offenders in New Mexico. Your case will have our full attention, and we are prepared to try it all the way if that is what it takes to secure an optimal outcome.
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The Short- and Long-Term Dangers of Choking
When food or medication becomes lodged in a nursing home resident’s throat or windpipe, not enough oxygen will be able to get to the lungs. The short-term effects will be immediate: The resident will likely have difficulty breathing, be unable to speak, and produce wheezing and other high-pitched noises. Their skin may also turn a bluish pigment. Within minutes, they will almost certainly lose consciousness.
The choking resident will die from asphyxiation if the blockage is not removed, and even if aid is administered, the resident could suffer permanent brain damage if it takes more than a few minutes to clear the blockage. Other long-term impacts can include throat irritation and damage.
How Can Abuse or Neglect Lead to Choking Incidents in New Mexico Nursing Homes?
Because it is well-established that older adults, particularly those with difficulty chewing and swallowing, are more prone to choking accidents, the nursing homes that care for them have a duty to implement measures that work to minimize the possibility of an incident. Specifically, federal law requires nursing homes to develop a personalized care plan for each resident within 48 hours of admittance. It is during this period that it should be determined whether a resident has a heightened danger of choking and whether they, therefore, need additional supervision or assistance when eating.
The reality is that, even when the risks are recognized and individual care plans are put in place, nursing home staff members are often undertrained and overworked. This can result in scenarios where an employee may not be familiar with a resident’s specific needs and thus do something that triggers or contributes to a choking incident. If they are especially exhausted by an unrealistic volume of work or do not have enough time to give each resident the attention they need, they could make critical mistakes. Undertrained employees may also not be prepared to administer first aid, including the Heimlich maneuver, which may result in deadly consequences.
When Is the Nursing Home Responsible for a Choking Incident?
In the aftermath of a choking incident, you may be uncertain of your family’s rights and what you can do to get your loved one justice. Our Albuquerque nursing home choking attorneys can help you investigate what happened and determine whether you have a case against the nursing home.
While some nursing home choking incidents will be unpredictable and unavoidable, most are preventable if safety procedures are followed. A nursing home tends to become legally responsible for choking injuries or death when it fails to adequately staff its facility, or fails to adequately screen, train, or monitor its staff. For example, a nursing home must honor its duty to residents by ensuring it has enough staff to meet the needs of the resident, and that the staff has the training and resources they need to care for them, including any dietary needs. Employees should be given specific instructions on what types of food should (and should not) be given to a resident, how food should be cut or prepared, how much assistance the resident needs with eating and drinking, and how long staff should wait between bites of food or sips of liquids. If a nursing home fails to give employees these instructions, or fails to adequately staff the facility, resulting in the staff not having enough time or support to carry them out, they may become liable for any choking incidents that result.
What Damages Can I Recover in a Nursing Home Neglect Lawsuit?
If your loved one was injured or passed away due to a choking incident, reach out to the Harvey & Foote Law Firm as soon as you can, as you have limited time to take legal action and recover damages. Our Albuquerque nursing home choking lawyers can help you investigate the circumstances, gather evidence, and formally report the suspected neglect. From there, we can explore your legal options, including filing a lawsuit against a negligent nursing home.
If your loved one was injured in a choking incident, we can help you seek damages for:
- Past, current, and future medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
If your loved one passed away because of a choking incident, our team can fight to get your family compensation for:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Final medical expenses
- Pain and suffering endured by the deceased
- Emotional distress
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