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Holding Nursing Homes Accountable for Neglect Causing Aspiration Pneumonia

Many elderly people in nursing homes suffer from aspiration pneumonia. Sadly, this is a serious condition that can lead to hospitalization and wrongful death. Although this health concern is common in nursing homes across Florida and this nation, it is important to know that it is not a natural consequence of aging and that it is always preventable.

What Is Aspiration Pneumonia?

Aspiration pneumonia occurs when the lungs are infected. Typically, when food gets caught in the lungs, bacteria can grow. While most people are able to cough up the food or objects stuck in their throats, sometimes elderly people cannot do this. Those that might be at risk for suffering from aspiration pneumonia include:

  • Elderly people with weak immune systems
  • Alzheimer’s patients
  • Those with weak throat muscles and have trouble swallowing
  • Nursing home residents who are unable to chew food well
  • Those using feeding tubes
  • Nursing home patients who are dependent on staff for feeding

Nursing Home Residents and Aspiration Pneumonia

Although there are certain people who may be more likely to suffer from aspiration pneumonia, nursing home patients should never have to suffer this type of infection. The reason? Nursing home staff should know how to feed and care for Alzheimer’s patients, those with weak throat muscles, those on feeding tubes, and those that have a difficult time swallowing or chewing food.

Unfortunately, aspiration pneumonia is often brought on by nursing home neglect. When workers don’t provide the proper preventative care patients need, they can suffer needlessly and develop pneumonia. Unfortunately, nursing home workers often don’t catch the signs of aspiration pneumonia in time, which has led to hospitalization and the unnecessary death of nursing home residents. Some of the aspiration pneumonia signs include:

  • Fever and chills
  • Presence of crackles when breathing
  • Respiratory rate of 30 breaths or more per minute
  • Difficulty breathing and swallowing food
  • Constant coughing
  • Bad breath and poor dental hygiene

When patients demonstrate these signs and nursing home workers don’t recognize the symptoms or fail to provide timely treatment, nursing home residents and their families can pursue a nursing home neglect lawsuit against the facility. Nursing homes are supposed to properly care for patients. When they fail to do so and neglect their residents, patients’ families may have a legal case against the nursing home when wrongful death occurs.

To learn more about your rights to a nursing home lawsuit, request a free copy of our book: The Florida Nursing Home Abuse Handbook.


Damian Mallard, Esq.
Board Certified Sarasota Personal Injury Attorney