Little Rock, AR (Law Firm Newswire) December 21, 2012 – The last thing people think of is their relative choking to death in a nursing home. This is negligence.
“Not too many people realize that patients in a nursing home often suffer from a variety of mental and physical issues. One of those issues is difficulty swallowing; something many of us take for granted. In nursing homes, many of the residents are handed trays of food, and that is the end of it. No one checks to see if they eat, or if they ‘can’ eat,” explained Mike Smith, an Arkansas injury lawyer and Arkansas accident lawyer, practicing personal injury law in Arkansas personal injury lawyer.
There are some nursing facilities that have staff on hand that feed patients that have difficulty swallowing. However, this appears to be more of an exception, rather than a rule. As a result, mealtime in a nursing home may cause injuries such as dehydration, malnourishment, choking and death.
Consider the recent case of a Syracuse, New York, nursing home, which received a severe sanction, termed as an ‘immediate jeopardy’ sanction, as a result of the death of a resident in their care. They failed to plan for the care of one of their patients based on that individual’s need when attempting to eat. While swallowing may seem easy and effortless, there are over 50 various muscles and nerves in the chest, face and throat that govern the ability to eat.
“Nursing home residents that are stroke survivors suffer from other forms of dementia or neurological conditions, typically face complication swallowing. They must be carefully watched at mealtimes for any difficulties the patient may have. Based on their observations, a dietary plan needs to be created for them. That may include the patient having nothing orally, being fed a pureed diet, being offered a mechanically altered diet featuring moist food, have their food cut into bite-sized pieces, but soft, or offered a regular diet,” Smith outlined.
Legally speaking, nursing homes must follow any dietary restrictions as diligently as they would follow medication procedures. By giving a patient the wrong kind of foods, or not offering assistance to those who need it, they become exposed to liability should a patient choke or become malnourished. Choking is a delicate issue, as the patient may not have arrived in the facility with an eating issue. Instead, they may develop it over time, and only close monitoring will catch any changes that could harm such patients.
“Nursing home staff members become the eyes and ears for patients. If they fail in that regard, someone may be seriously injured or die. Nursing home abuse is something you need to speak to a qualified injury lawyer about. Don’t hesitate to call me if you suspect abuse in a facility,” added Smith.
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