Aspiration pneumonia may be a condition that you never heard of or a condition that you didn’t give much thought to until it happened to your loved one at her nursing home. Now that the doctor has told you that your loved one is suffering from aspiration pneumonia, you want to learn as much as you can about the condition, about its causes, and about what you can do to help your loved one.
What Is Aspiration Pneumonia?
Aspiration pneumonia occurs when food, drink, saliva, gastric acid, or any other foreign material enters the lungs and the bacteria that come with them causes an infection. While many healthy people are able to cough and to clear their lungs quickly, this isn’t the case for everyone. Some people are at greater risk of suffering aspiration pneumonia than others. These people include those who are:
- Having difficulty swallowing.
- Suffering from a weakened immune system.
- Taking sedatives.
Different types of aspiration pneumonia can result. Specifically, when foreign materials enter the lungs, a person may suffer from:
- Chemical pneumonia. This typically occurs when gastric acid enters the lungs.
- Bacterial pneumonia. This typically occurs when food, drink, or something that has been in the mouth and throat enters the lungs.
Symptoms of aspiration pneumonia may develop within a few minutes, a few hours, a few days, or even a few weeks depending on the underlying cause of the infection. Immediate medical treatment, a prompt diagnosis, and a comprehensive treatment plan are important if aspiration pneumonia is suspected.
Treatment and recovery depend on other health conditions and other factors. Serious complications, including death, are possible.
Aspiration Pneumonia Can Occur Because of Nursing Home Negligence
Many nursing home residents are susceptible to aspiration pneumonia. They are weak, they may be bedridden, and they may have conditions that make it hard to swallow. However, aspiration pneumonia is not inevitable.
Aspiration pneumonia can be caused by nursing home neglect. It can be the result of a:
- Failure to provide adequate medical care.
- Failure to determine if a resident can eat, drink, and swallow safely.
- Failure to provide the necessary modifications or support so that a resident can eat or drink safely.
- Failure to monitor a resident.
- Failure to properly insert or maintain feeding tubes.
- Failure to account for medication changes that may make chewing and swallowing difficult.
These causes of aspiration pneumonia in nursing homes may be the result of:
- Insufficient staffing. Nursing homes have a duty to provide nutrition in a way that residents can safely ingest it and to provide reasonable care to prevent aspiration pneumonia. Sometimes, this requires diet modifications and additional supervision. In order to provide this care, the nursing home must be sufficiently staffed to allow staff members the time to provide the necessary care to individual residents.
- Inadequate staff training. Even if there are enough staff members present in the facility, the staff members must know about the risk of aspiration pneumonia, the steps that they should take to protect individual residents from the risk, and when to get medical help for someone who may be suffering from aspiration pneumonia.
If your loved one develops aspiration pneumonia because the nursing home failed to provide reasonable care, then she could have a legal claim against the nursing home.
How to Help Your Loved One Now
The road to a legal recovery after nursing home negligence can be complicated. It can be too difficult for a nursing home resident to navigate alone. While you couldn’t prevent the injury from happening and you can’t take away the pain, you can help your loved one recover. You can make sure that she gets the medical care that she deserves and the legal help that she needs to make a fair recovery.
Our experienced nursing home injury lawyers would be pleased to provide your loved one with a free, no-obligation consultation so that, together, we can decide how best to protect her rights going forward. For more information, please reach out to us any time—24/7/365—via this website or by phone.