Elderly Lives Matter®

What Causes Aspiration Pneumonia In Nursing Home Residents?

On Behalf of | Sep 13, 2023 | Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Pneumonia is a health concern that is a more significant risk for older adults than for younger people. This respiratory infection can leave older adults in the hospital and can even be the cause of their deaths. There are multiple types of pneumonia that people may develop or contract while living in a nursing home, but one of the most concerning and dangerous is aspiration pneumonia.

Unlike traditional pneumonia, which usually develops due to exposure to respiratory pathogens, aspiration pneumonia often indicates that someone has not received proper medical care at a nursing home facility. The condition is not directly caused by pathogens but rather by the introduction of foreign fluids to the respiratory system.

What causes aspiration pneumonia?

The use of a feeding tube is one of the more common reasons that people might develop aspiration pneumonia in a nursing home. If they cannot tolerate solid food or if they are in a medical state where they cannot eat, providing an older adult with nutrition through a feeding tube is an option. Unfortunately, errors with the installation of a feeding tube and complications while providing a resident with nutrition could lead to them inhaling some of the formula.

Protracted periods of bed rest my also contribute to aspiration pneumonia, as someone could accidentally inhale fluids or foods while drinking or eating in bed. Even an instance of vomiting while lying down could potentially lead to fluid ending up in the respiratory system. Unless medical professionals quickly seek to remediate that fluid, it can lead to infection. Aspiration pneumonia is a condition that has a very strong correlation with hospitalization and death.

Preventable illnesses could be a sign of neglect

An older adult living in a nursing home should receive adequate support so that they aren’t at risk of aspiration pneumonia. Even if they do accidentally inhale nutritional formula or other fluids, workers should be able to quickly identify and address that issue.

Those shocked by a loved one’s sudden decline or hospitalization may have to review the situation carefully with a legal professional to determine if negligent care contributed to the development of aspiration pneumonia. Connecting different medical conditions to the treatments people receive in nursing homes may help family members hold professionals and facilities accountable for substandard care that compromises someone’s health or quality of life.


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