Skip Navigation LinksHome > June 2009 - Volume 109 - Issue 6 > Case Study: Asphyxia Caused by Inspissated Oral and Nasophar...
AJN, American Journal of Nursing:
doi: 10.1097/01.NAJ.0000352471.63370.32

Case Study: Asphyxia Caused by Inspissated Oral and Nasopharyngeal Secretions

Prahlow, Joseph A. MD; Prahlow, Tamara J. BSN; Rakow, Rex J. MS; Prahlow, Nathan D. MD

Continued Education
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An institutionalized man with severe mental disability and cerebral palsy, admitted from the ED with suspected aspiration pneumonia, died after a long struggle with respiratory difficulties. The cause of death was determined to be asphyxia resulting from a complete obstruction of the posterior pharynx and upper larynx by thickened oral and nasopharyngeal secretions. Although airway obstruction is common in people with motor or neurologic disorders and in those who are chronically debilitated or institutionalized, food and foreign matter are not the only culprits. This case serves to remind clinicians that a failure to provide good oral care and adequate hydration is not only poor practice but can result in death.

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.


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