Kansas City Choking Accident Attorney

Has Your Loved One Been Injured in a Choking Accident at a Kansas City Nursing Home?

Choking accidents can be life-threatening, especially for elderly residents of nursing homes who may have difficulty swallowing or require assistance with eating. When nursing home staff fail to provide proper care, supervision, and support during meal times, it can lead to devastating consequences. Residents who suffer from choking accidents may endure physical injuries, emotional trauma, and in severe cases, even death.

At the Law Office of Tom Wagstaff Jr., LLC, we understand the sensitive nature of nursing home abuse cases, especially when it involves choking accidents. Our legal team is committed to providing compassionate support to victims and their families during these challenging times. We are also fiercely dedicated to seeking justice and holding negligent parties accountable for their actions.

Call (816) 597-4556 or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation.

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What is a Choking Accident?

A choking accident at nursing homes refers to an incident in which a resident, typically an elderly person with compromised swallowing abilities or other medical conditions, becomes unable to breathe due to a foreign object blocking their airway. Choking can be a life-threatening emergency, requiring immediate intervention to prevent serious complications or death.

Common causes of choking accidents at nursing homes include:

  • Swallowing difficulties: Elderly residents in nursing homes often have dysphagia, a condition that impairs their ability to swallow food or liquids properly. This can lead to food or liquid entering the airway instead of the digestive system, causing choking.
  • Dental problems: Poor dental health, missing teeth, or ill-fitting dentures can make it challenging for residents to chew food properly, increasing the risk of choking.
  • Cognitive impairments: Residents with cognitive conditions such as Alzheimer's or dementia may forget to chew their food adequately or try to swallow inappropriate items, leading to choking incidents.
  • Inadequate supervision during meals: Insufficient monitoring during meal times may result in residents attempting to eat foods that are difficult to chew or swallow, leading to choking accidents.
  • Eating too quickly: Some residents may eat too quickly, not giving themselves enough time to chew food thoroughly, which increases the risk of choking.
  • Inappropriate food consistency: Failing to modify food textures to match residents' swallowing abilities can lead to choking. For example, serving hard or sticky foods to residents with swallowing difficulties can be dangerous.
  • Use of improperly sized feeding tubes: Residents who require feeding tubes may experience choking if the tube is not appropriately sized or placed correctly.
  • Medication-related issues: Certain medications can cause dry mouth or impair swallowing reflexes, increasing the risk of choking.
  • Lack of awareness: Some residents may not be aware of their swallowing difficulties or may not be able to communicate effectively about their discomfort, making it difficult for caregivers to address potential choking risks.

To prevent choking accidents in nursing homes, staff should receive proper training in handling residents with swallowing difficulties and be vigilant during meal times. Providing appropriate meal modifications, conducting regular assessments of residents' swallowing abilities, and ensuring residents take medications safely can significantly reduce the risk of choking incidents. 

Additionally, nursing homes should have emergency protocols in place to respond promptly in case of choking accidents to minimize potential harm to residents. 

Warning Signs of Dysphagia

Dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, can present with various warning signs in nursing home residents. Recognizing these signs is crucial for early intervention and preventing complications like choking and aspiration pneumonia. Here are some common warning signs:

  • Coughing or Choking During Meals: Frequent coughing or choking while eating or drinking is a primary indicator of dysphagia. It suggests that food or liquid is entering the airway instead of the esophagus.
  • Drooling or Poor Oral Control: Excessive drooling or difficulty managing saliva can indicate issues with the oral phase of swallowing. It often points to an inability to properly control food and liquid in the mouth.
  • Wet or Gurgly Voice After Eating: A wet-sounding voice after eating or drinking suggests that food or liquid might be pooling in the throat or entering the airway, which can be a sign of dysphagia.
  • Food Remaining in the Mouth:If a resident frequently has food left in their mouth after swallowing or needs to chew for a prolonged period, it may indicate difficulty moving food to the back of the throat.
  • Difficulty Initiating Swallowing: A noticeable delay in starting to swallow or multiple attempts to swallow a single mouthful can be a sign of problems with the swallowing reflex.
  • Frequent Throat Clearing: Constant throat clearing during and after meals can suggest that the resident feels like something is stuck in their throat or that food or liquid has entered the airway.
  • Changes in Eating Habits: Avoiding certain foods, preferring soft or liquid diets, or showing anxiety or frustration during meals can indicate difficulties with swallowing.
  • Recurrent Pneumonia or Respiratory Infections: Frequent respiratory infections or aspiration pneumonia can result from food or liquid entering the lungs due to dysphagia.
  • Unexplained Weight Loss: Significant, unintended weight loss can occur if a resident is not eating enough due to fear of choking or difficulties swallowing.
  • Pain or Discomfort While Swallowing: Complaints of pain, discomfort, or a sensation of food being stuck in the throat can be a sign of dysphagia.
  • Prolonged Meal Times: Taking an unusually long time to finish meals can indicate problems with chewing or swallowing.
  • Spitting or Regurgitating Food: Regurgitating food or spitting it out frequently may be a coping mechanism for difficulty swallowing.
  • Fatigue During Meals: Getting tired or breathless while eating might suggest that the effort of swallowing is too great.
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      Who is Liable for a Choking Accident in a Nursing Home?

      In general, nursing homes have a duty of care to ensure the safety and well-being of their residents. This includes taking reasonable steps to prevent accidents such as choking. If a choking accident occurs at a nursing home and it is found that the nursing home staff or management was negligent or failed to fulfill their duty of care, they may be held liable for the incident.

      Liability may extend to different parties, including:

      • Nursing home staff: If the choking accident resulted from staff negligence, such as failure to properly supervise residents during meals, provide adequate assistance, or administer the appropriate food consistency for residents with swallowing difficulties, the staff members involved may be held liable.
      • Nursing home management: If the choking accident was caused by a systemic issue within the nursing home, such as inadequate training, insufficient staff-to-resident ratios, or a lack of proper policies and procedures, the management or the facility itself may be held liable.
      • Manufacturers or suppliers: In some cases, if the choking accident was caused by a defective product, such as faulty feeding equipment, the manufacturer or supplier of the equipment may be held liable under product liability laws.
      • Third-party contractors: If the nursing home contracted with a third-party food service provider, and the choking accident was related to the quality or preparation of the food, the food service provider may share liability.

      Proving liability in such cases can be complex, and it may involve investigations, witness testimonies, medical records, and expert opinions. With years of experience in handling nursing home abuse cases,  our team at the Law Office of Tom Wagstaff Jr., LLC has an in-depth knowledge of the complexities involved in choking accident lawsuits. We have a proven track record of successfully recovering compensation for our clients.

      Call us today at (816) 597-4556 or use our online contact form to schedule a free consultation. Let us fight for your rights and hold negligent parties accountable for their actions.

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