I have heard absolute horror stories about nursing home residents choking in nursing homes, and as a result, dying.

Why would someone choke to death in a skilled nursing facility you may wonder?

Well sadly, many residents suffer from Dysphagia, which is the medical term for the symptom of difficulty in swallowing. Perhaps they have had a stroke, or cognitive decline such that swallowing is not automatic. Nursing home often evaluate these people and place them on special diets, such as soft diet only – no whole foods, nothing that requires chewing, swallowing, etc.

But mistakes are made. Residents on soft diet are given sandwiches, thick foods, whole foods that get lodged in one’s throat…. and well, you know the tragic ending to the story. Unmonitored residents can choke and die on basic foods when they do not have the ability to swallow or cry for help.

If your loved one is in a nursing home and requires a soft diet, it is up to you to make sure family knows about this and the nursing home does not alter the plan of care.

One little mistake on a food tray, can cost a life. It is inexcusable, yes, but it sadly happens more then you would think.

Lauren Ellerman

Lauren Ellerman

In 2011, Lauren Ellerman was named "Young Lawyer of the Year" by the Roanoke Bar Association for her work in the community. To speak with Lauren about your personal injury case, contact her at