Elderly patient choked on water
- 0Jan 3, '07 by marilynmomOK, the other night when I was at work (Im a NA) one of my elderly cardiac patients called me into her room so I could help her drink her water--all of a sudden she started choking on it....turned beat red, couldn't breathe, etc. Then all of a sudden she threw it all up and was fine before I could even do anything.
Afterwards it really freaked me out! That was my first experience with a patient choking. When someone is choking on water you do the heimlich manuevar, right? Sorry if that sounds stupid. For some reason I never though about anyone choking on water the same as someone choking on a hotdog or something like that and I have been questioning my abilities!
What do you do when someone is choking on water? Would turning them to the side or anything be effective or only the heimlich or chest thrusts for a very large bed bound patient? I just want to make sure if something like that happened again I feel prepared and don't question myself.
- 0Jan 3, '07 by Angie O'Plasty, RNnaturally, if someone can get air, breathe, and especially cough, then i would not do a heimlich. it's best to let the person cough and clear themselves, which i would encourage the person to do.
that's all a heimlich really does anyway. it uses that little reserve of air to push out an obstruction.
here's a link and an excerpt:
emergencies and first aid — choking
a person who is choking will instinctively grab at the throat. the person also may panic, gasp for breath, turn blue, or be unconscious (see p. 1216). if the person can cough or speak, he or she is getting air. nothing should be done.
- 0Jan 3, '07 by marilynmomQuote from Angie O'Plasty, RNYes, Trudy's right. Is this patient having a hard time whenever she drinks or was that just a fluke?
She was a cardiac patient, no strokes, and was also very confused and didn't show the typical choking signs...though she was not getting air, could not cough, was very RED and her tongue was sticking out, etc. Thankfully she did end up throwing the water up (maybe she aspirated it?) and was fine after that and didn't seem to even know she had choked! But I felt later on I should have done something to help her, because what if she wouldn't have throw up?
I was floated up to another floor so I wasn't really able to discuss this was anyone (of course I informed her RN before I left).
Thank you for the link. And yes I have taken AHA BLS but that was my first real choking experience and I wanted to just kinda talk about it. I just want to make sure the next time this happens (because I know it will) I feel more confident and prepared when I'm in the room alone with a patient like this.
I just never thought someone could choke on a sip of water like that!
- 0Jan 3, '07 by HappyParamedicRNNO! no heimlich on someone who you are POSITIVE is only choking on water. The water probably caused laryngospasm and also set of that darned gag reflex which is why she puked. Water is very unlikely to kill someone if they are "choking" on it as the laryngospasm and gagging/coughing will likely resolve in a short period without any assistance. Remember heimlich is only for people with a COMPLETE airway obstruction.
- 0Jan 3, '07 by lovingtheunlovedAh, been there. Happens pretty often where I work. (Alzheimer's pts) Usually they can get it out on their own, but if they're not breathing at all, put their arms over their head if possible, (not all people can tolerate that) it'll give their lungs more room to expand, and they'll usually cough or throw it up. A couple firm whacks on the back can help too. I did have one resident (that little guy was a train wreck and a half) who did that pretty frequently, and a couple of times actually lost consciousness. Pretty scary. I was amazed he lived as long as he did.
- 0Jan 3, '07 by bethinQuote from swtoothNO! no heimlich on someone who you are POSITIVE is only choking on water. The water probably caused laryngospasm and also set of that darned gag reflex which is why she puked. Water is very unlikely to kill someone if they are "choking" on it as the laryngospasm and gagging/coughing will likely resolve in a short period without any assistance. Remember heimlich is only for people with a COMPLETE airway obstruction.
Thank you. I was wondering how a liquid could completely cover an airway and then how do you get the liquid out? Heimlich I thought, only removed solid items such as food, pennies, etc. My experience with choking on liquids is, it's not pleasant but they will throw it up.
- 0Jan 3, '07 by TiffyRN, BSN, RNLaryngospasm would be my guess. Happens to me off and on. I have to relax completely and try to stop coughing and inhaling forcefully. But you likely can't reason with a patient in the middle of the crisis. My suggestion would be supportive (emotionally), encourage the patient to relax and if they do pass out they will likely relax their airway and that point and breathe normally.
Then do (recommend) a swallow eval. Thin liquids like water are the easiest to aspirate on. And an aspiration episode could be your fist indication of a stroke or TIA in a patient who is high risk (say, someone with a cardiac history).