Nursing homes should be safe places for our elderly relatives. Instead, many times a nursing home may be dangerous. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) nursing home falls result in serious injuries about 20% of the time. Not only do falls cause serious injuries, the injuries could create medical complications that are impossible for the patient to overcome. Certainly some falls ultimately lead to prolonged recovery and sometimes death.
Falls That Cause Broken Bones
When elderly people fall they are more likely to sustain serious injuries, including broken bones. Hip fractures are one of the most commonly reported injuries in elderly falls. Falls do not need to be far or on hard surfaces to cause major medical problems. Broken bones are common among the elderly
The most common types of fractures in the elderly include those that occur in the:
- Hand; and
Bruises and broken bones could be a sign of nursing home abuse. A large number of falls occur in nursing homes as a result of negligent circumstances.
Nursing Home Falls are A Big Problem
Nursing home falls are a growing problem for elderly residents. A nursing home with 100 beds reports between 100 and 200 falls each year. That number is likely low, because a number of falls do not get reported. It is estimated that between 50% and 75% of all nursing home patients will experience a fall each year. It is important to note that this rate is about twice that of seniors who live in the community as opposed to a nursing facility.
What Causes Nursing Home Falls?
Nursing home falls may occur for a number of reasons. Sometimes, a fall is an indication of a medical problem. Many patients fall more than once, increasing their risk of serious injury. Falls may be due to staff inadequacies, if workers are not properly trained or do not have the ability to properly handle various situations. A patient may fall when walking, when trying to stand or move about, or as a result of being transferred between bed and chair. Elderly patients may be unsteady or may have muscle weakness that requires special attention to move about. Some medications can cause lightheadedness. Everything possible should be done to try to prevent falls from occurring.
Prevention of Nursing Home Falls
Nursing home falls can often be prevented. The nursing home must take a comprehensive proactive approach to falls. The facility needs to be sure that all areas of the facility are free from potential hazards for those using walkers, wheelchairs, and those who simply walk with difficulty. Installation of safety devices is helpful, such as raised toilet seats, grab bars, lowered beds, and handrails. Physical restraints should generally not be used as a fall prevention strategy.
Serious Injuries Due to Nursing Home Falls
While not all falls that occur in nursing homes are due to negligence, it is likely that many of them could have been prevented. When a resident suffered harm due to a fall, it might be considered nursing home abuse or neglect. If a loved one is the victim of nursing home abuse, contact the experienced legal team at Berman & Riedel, LLP to discuss your options.