The Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) has issued a Health Alert in order to make all providers, staff, and other caregivers aware of the serious issue of choking. All should become familiar with resources to aid in the identification of individuals at risk for choking, the training of staff, and the appropriate documentation of special dietary needs and choking precautions. Swift action is essential to prevent Irreversible harm or death!
There are two key issues to promote safety for individuals:
- The information contained in the participants’ care plans, including medical evaluations/recommendations, assessments, Individual Support Plans (ISPs), and any treatment plans used by the agency (hereafter “care plans”) must be accurate, consistent, and followed precisely for feeding plans, supervision of the individual while eating to maintain safety, proper positioning, and the use of specialized equipment.
- All staff providing service to an individual must be trained on the individual’s dietary needs, including awareness of proper foods and food textures, supervision needs during meals, proper positioning during a meal, and the use of specialized equipment related to the risk of aspiration and choking.
Action to Take for an Individual Choking:
- Call 911 immediately! Seconds matter. Do not delay by seeking supervisory approval prior to calling 911.
- Initiate First Aid with abdominal thrusts.
- If the individual becomes unresponsive, move him/her to the floor and begin CPR.
- Contact the health care practitioner after any episode of choking.
A single choking event may be a warning sign for future choking events. This warning sign needs to be taken seriously and follow-up with the health care practitioner can avoid tragic consequences.
Contact RCPA IDD Division Director Carol Ferenz with any questions.