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Nursing Home Neglect Can Cause Resident Suffocation

Residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities often need assistance with everyday tasks like eating, drinking or just moving. Without proper care and assistance from staff, residents can experience serious harm in the form of suffocation or choking, which can result in life-threatening injuries and even death.

How do these suffocation or choking injuries occur? A variety of factors can contribute to these types of injuries in nursing homes. Though generally, injuries occur because of a lack of sufficient well-trained staff, poor use of equipment and/or improper monitoring of residents.

Common causes for incidents of nursing home suffocation:

  • Residents who are cognitively impaired or physically disabled can get their head caught between bedrails, or become tangled in bed linens or clothing. This can result in suffocation or strangulation if the resident is trapped in a way that compresses their chest, mouth or throat. Also, a resident may attempt to climb over a restraint or bedrail, become tangled or suspended, and become asphyxiated.
  • A lack of assistance while eating or drinking can cause impaired residents accidently choke and suffocate if they put too much food in their mouths, and struggle to properly chew and swallow it. Allowing a resident to become dehydrated can also cause a dry throat and difficulty swallowing, also increasing the risk of suffocation.
  • Residents with breathing devices require increased monitoring or care. Failure of staff to monitor breathing apparatus and tubes can result in clogs that could disrupt the resident’s breathing and result in suffocation if left unchecked. Oxygen tanks must also be filled and checked regularly.
  • Respiratory disease and drug side effects also contribute to suffocation. Phlegm produced by colds or respiratory diseases can accumulate and block the airway. And some medications cause side effects which make it difficult to swallow or breathe.

These types of injuries may appear accidental, but the facility can and should be held accountable if they are the product of neglect and result in serious injury or death. If a loved one has wrongfully suffered from suffocation or strangulation in a nursing home or long-term care facility, you may have a nursing home neglect case.

Nursing home abuse and neglect are preventable, only if and when facilities are held accountable. If you have any questions regarding an incident of neglect or about reporting a facility, please contact the experienced nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys at Hupy and Abraham for a free consultation. Call 800-800-5678, or start a live chat with us anytime at