Birmingham Aspiration Death in Nursing Home Attorneys
Thousands of nursing home residents die every year because of aspiration. Aspiration occurs when a person breathes a foreign object into their airway. If the blockage doesn’t get removed promptly, the individual can’t breathe, and the result is death. If you lost a loved one to aspiration due to the negligence of a nursing home staff member or the facility, contact a Birmingham nursing home abuse lawyer at Farris, Riley & Pitt, LLP to discuss your rights and legal options.
When you place a loved one in the care of a nursing home facility, you trust that they will be allowed to live out their golden years in comfort and dignity. To lose them unexpectedly can cause you and your family to suffer immeasurable emotional pain and grief. Our team understands what you are going through, and we’ll be here to provide compassionate counsel and aggressive representation to make sure the responsible parties are held accountable for their actions. Call us at (205) 324-1212 to speak with a knowledgeable member of our team today.
What is Aspiration?
Foreign objects such as food and drinks, mucous and saliva, vomit, and medications could cause fatal aspiration. Medical conditions and other issues like inflammation of the respiratory tract could also be factors.
In a nursing home, anything preventing an elderly adult from freely breathing is called aspiration. It’s divided into three different categories: aspiration pneumonia, pulmonary aspiration, and choking.
Aspiration Pneumonia: The most common cause of aspiration death among seniors. Preventing it from occurring takes the appropriate medical care, treatment, antibiotics, infection prevention, and monitoring. Symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty swallowing
- Chest pain
- Fever or sweating
- Discoloration of lips and skin
- Breath odor
Pulmonary Aspiration: This occurs when a substance, usually food, passes into the windpipe and lungs instead of the esophagus. The most common symptoms experienced include the following:
- Hoarse voice
- Painful swallowing
- Trouble breathing
- The feeling of something stuck in the throat
Choking: Elderly individuals who suffered a stroke or currently live with certain medical conditions could aspirate their food or drink into the lungs. Symptoms include:
- Pain during swallowing
- Coughing or wheezing after eating
- Chest discomfort or heartburn
- Feeling of food at the back of the throat or entering back into the mouth
- Shortness of breath or fatigue while eating
How to Prevent Aspiration Death in Nursing Homes
There are some methods nursing facility staff should use to prevent death by aspiration. Simple measures could save someone’s life and avoid putting their family through devastating pain. The different prevention methods all employees in nursing homes should follow includes:
- Monitor residents while they eat and drink
- Provide food that’s easy to chew and swallow
- Conduct medical testing to check for risks of aspiration
- Monitor pneumonia in patients to look for signs of aspiration pneumonia
- Give medications that control nausea and acid reflux
- Treat aspiration before fatal results occur
The staff in nursing homes hold a responsibility to make sure their patients are safe at all times. When neglect occurs, patients are at considerable risk of injury and death. It’s traumatic knowing someone’s careless actions caused your loved one’s death. No one should ever have to suffer because of a nursing home’s failure to adhere to necessary procedures.
Was Aspiration Death the Result of Nursing Home Neglect?
Residents in nursing homes and assisted living facilities are susceptible to aspiration. Many are unable to care for themselves and require 24/7 monitoring and assistance. Others are heavily medicated or have issues making it challenging to eat on their own. Some are restricted to a specific diet, but could accidentally receive the incorrect meal plan and choke on foods they’re not allowed to eat.
Below are the most common forms of neglect that lead to aspiration death:
- Failure to provide necessary medical care or intervention
- Failure to evaluate a patient’s ability to eat, drink, and swallow
- Failure to provide appropriate modifications to facilitate safe eating and drinking
- Failure to frequently check on a patient and monitor their health
- Failure to insert or maintain feeding tubes correctly
- Failure to document changes in medication that could cause difficulties chewing and swallowing
Two main situations usually contribute to nursing home neglect: insufficient staff and inadequate training. When a nursing home is understaffed, it’s hard to provide reasonable care to every single patient. Sometimes important information gets overlooked, and residents are left to fend for themselves. Additionally, if staff members don’t receive training about aspiration risks, they won’t know the signs to look for or when a patient requires medical attention.
Can I Take Action Against the Nursing Home for My Loved One’s Death?
Many states throughout the country allow surviving family members to file a wrongful death claim for compensation. However, the state of Alabama is different. It’s not enough to be a spouse, child, or immediate relative of the victim of aspiration death. You must be the personal representative listed on their estate to pursue a financial award in a wrongful death case. Additionally, you cannot receive any payment directly from the wrongful death claim. Instead, the estate would get paid.
Under Alabama law, the statute of limitations to sue someone for wrongful death is two years. That means you only have two years from the date your loved one died to bring legal action against the nursing home or sole individual responsible for their death.
Damages are also different in the state of Alabama. As opposed to collecting compensation for compensatory damages (medical expenses, funeral costs, etc.), you’re only allowed to pursue punitive damages. Punitive damages punish the responsible party and deter similar negligence from occurring in the future.
How Can A Birmingham Aspiration Death Lawyer Help Me?
The strict deadlines to adhere to and the necessary documentation to submit are complicated for anyone unfamiliar with the process. Alabama’s laws regarding wrongful death cases are complex and confusing. If you’ve never handled an overwhelming situation like this before, it’s likely you won’t know the steps you need to take.
Hiring an experienced attorney from Farris, Riley & Pitt, LLP ensures you’ll receive the maximum compensation available. We know this is a horrible time in your life. You shouldn’t have to go through this alone. We’ll be by your side every step of the way to offer emotional support and legal guidance. We’ll handle every aspect so you can focus on grieving and moving forward with your life.
Contact a Birmingham Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
If you lost a loved one to aspiration in a nursing home, our Birmingham nursing home abuse lawyers will be ready to provide you and your family with qualified, compassionate legal counsel during this difficult time. We’re sensitive to your needs and the needs of the other surviving family members, and we’re committed to helping you get the answers and justice you deserve.
We can be reached by calling (205) 324-1212 or contact us online to schedule a no-obligation, confidential case evaluation today.