Free Consultation · Call 24/7

Large Pills Linked To Nursing Home Choking Injuries

A senior taking his medications

New Report Suggests Nursing Home Providers Should Help Reduce Choking Hazards Present with Popular Dietary Supplements

A new Federal Drug Administration (FDA) report published in the August issue of Annals of Internal Medicine says adults aged 65 years and older are more likely to choke on dietary supplements than are younger adults. The group most impacted by the hazard includes those living in nursing homes or assisted living centers. The research shows multivitamins and calcium tablets, and pills larger than 17 mm in length, can create the highest related adverse choking injuries to elderly residents.

Because there is no oversight for the sizing of dietary supplements, the FDA report continued to suggest that eldercare providers help “residents avoid taking several pills at once, avoid extra-large pills or capsules, and swallow supplements with plenty of water or other fluid.”

Unfortunately, some workers are simply not taking the time to notice a resident with swallowing difficulties due to being overworked and left to care for too many residents or because they choose to neglect care duties.

Neglectful Care Leads to Resident Choking Hazards

According to the National Safety Council, choking is the fourth leading cause of unintentional injury death, and more than half of the people who die from choking are older than 74. Not only can a daily vitamin or medication in large pill form become a troublesome choking hazard but so can doses of food or drinks in smaller diameters that may get caught in a windpipe and create a blockage.

Residents can develop choking injuries caused by misguided and neglectful care staff and physicians who:

  • ignore dental issues and fail to identify choking hazards caused from a resident’s weakened muscles in the mouth and throat
  • administer medications which decrease saliva production
  • misdiagnose neurological disorders and brain injuries (Parkinson’s Disease, cerebral palsy, dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, stroke)
  • poorly maintain medical equipment such as breathing tubes
  • delay treatments for respiratory diseases
  • serve foods and liquids that are difficult for a resident to consume or swallow

Certain medical conditions such as GERD (acid reflux disorder), celiac, enlarged thyroid, osteoarthritis, diverticulosis, and some cancers can also make it difficult for residents to eat safely or swallow medications. Choking can also trigger other life-threatening complications and cause further damage and injury, such as:

If the staff responsible for administering medications and meals to residents see problematic chewing or swallowing, documentation should be noted, and the resident’s family, physician, or facility nurse should be informed immediately.

Nursing Homes Must Provide Proper Care and Supervision

The nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys of Levin & Perconti have successfully handled many choking lawsuits against nursing homes, including a $1 million verdict for the family of a 67-year-old man who was fed foods that were strictly forbidden.

Consultations at Levin & Perconti are always free, confidential, and handled by one of our skilled attorneys. Click here to fill out an online request form or call us toll-free at 1-877-374-1417 or 312-332-2872. 

Contact Us