Are Nursing Homes Responsible for Choking?

In many cases, the answer is yes.

Nursing homes often fail to perform interdisciplinary assessments (IA’s) to identify residents at risk for choking, or to follow the resident care plan created from the IA (like giving the resident only blended food or assisting the resident with eating). When a nursing home fails in these or other obligations and a resident is injured or dies as a result, the nursing home may be liable.

What Factors Lead to Choking in Nursing Homes?

According to the National Safety Council, thousands of people die from choking each year, a majority of whom are elderly (over the age of 74).[1]  When choking incidents arise, severe injuries or even death can result, impacting not only a victim but also their family.

Choking in a nursing home is frequently caused by factors other than not swallowing correctly.  For example, a nursing home may provide a resident with an improper food type that conflicts with a medical condition.  Alternatively, an individual may lack the mental or physical faculties needed to swallow sustenance without choking.

As experienced nursing home choking lawyers, we help choking victims and their families fight for justice.    To learn about whether you or your loved one may be entitled to sue a nursing home for choking, call our office to schedule a free consultation.  We can listen to the facts of your case and explain your legal options for seeking justice.  If a lawsuit is brought, we will fight tenaciously in seeking the maximum compensation possible for you.

We represent clients in Ithaca, Cortland, Binghamton, Elmira, Albany, Rochester, Syracuse, Upstate New York, and the surrounding communities on a contingency fee basis, meaning you will not have to pay us any fee unless you recover compensation.

Do People Frequently Die from Choking in Nursing Homes?

Yes.  As many nursing homes continue to place profits above care, it is unsurprising that choking continues to be a leading contributor to preventable nursing home deaths.

Individuals with impairments such as Alzheimer’s, Dementia, and Parkinson’s disease, are at an increased risk for choking-related death.  Consequently, they often need special assistance to ensure they can swallow food properly.  If a nursing home is negligent in providing feeding assistance, it may be liable for any injuries a resident sustains, including death.

What is an Interdisciplinary Assessment?

Nursing homes are required to perform what is known as an interdisciplinary assessment (or “IA”) to identify the risk factors for potential injury to all new residents, and to residents after they have suffered a significant medical event (such as a fall or stroke).  Typically, this assessment will be performed by a combination of nurses, a physician, and other medical staff, often including specialists like speech pathologists.

Part of the IA includes an assessment concerning a resident’s ability to chew or swallow food, as a significant number of residents admitted to nursing homes will have physical disabilities that impact their eating abilities and the muscles involved in the chewing and swallowing process.  If a resident exhibits limitations in these areas, the care plan for the resident must include safeguards to reduce the risk of choking.

What Nursing Home Choking Safeguards May Be Developed?

Typical safeguards that may be implemented in a resident’s care plan include:

  • Limitations on the type of food that may be given to the resident. Foods that are particularly hard to chew or swallow may be prohibited.
  • Requirements that food must be pureed. The care plan for residents who have more severe eating disabilities may dictate that the resident be given only pureed (or blended) foods, and that they are not allowed to have solid foods.
  • Requirements concerning the administration of food. In some cases, a resident may need an adaptive eating device or other eating assistance.

Do Nursing Homes Have A Duty to Provide Eating Assistance?

Yes.  Common insurance providers, such as Medicare and Medicaid, pay additional remuneration for providing eating assistance. Further, if eating assistance is detailed in an IA, facilities have a duty to provide the necessary accommodations.  Unfortunately, many nursing homes bill for such extra care while failing to provide a higher level of eating assistance, leading to countless injuries and deaths.

When nursing homes negligently fail to provide adequate eating assistance, an injury victim is legally entitled to seek damages.  Victims should not be left to shoulder medical and other expenses alone; instead, the negligent care provider or the nursing home should be held accountable and fully financially liable.

How Much Does an Experienced Nursing Home Choking Lawyer Cost?

At Friedlander & Mosher, P.C., we represent injured victims on a contingency fee basis, meaning that we only receive a fee if we successfully recover compensation on an individual’s behalf.  Further, we advance all litigation expenses while a case is ongoing (such costs are typically repaid from a settlement or jury award).

Who May Be Liable for Nursing Home Choking Injuries & Death?

Depending on the specific facts and circumstances of a case, those who may be liable for a nursing home injury or death include:

  • Nursing Home Owners and Operators
  • Nursing Home Staff
  • Doctors
  • Nurses
  • Hospitals
  • Other Medical Personnel
  • Other Third Parties

At Friedlander Mosher, P.C., we can help identify all liable parties to increase the likelihood of securing maximum compensation.

Schedule a Free Consultation with An Experienced Nursing Home Choking Attorney Today

If a loved one sustained an injury or died from choking in a nursing home, significant compensation may be available.   Contact us today to schedule a free consultation to learn how we can help you.  We can evaluate the facts of your case, explain your legal options, and help determine the parties that may be liable for injury or wrongful death.


[1] Choking Prevention and Rescue Tips, NSC, https://www.nsc.org/home-safety/safety-topics/choking-suffocation


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