The truth is that falls are a common occurrence among elderly people. As you get older and less flexible, it is difficult to react quickly enough to minimize the occurrence of injury.
When combined with the more brittle bones that elderly people have, it’s often the case that a relatively minor fall can lead to more serious injuries, such as fractured bones.
Statistics from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that 36% of preventable emergency room visits from elderly nursing home patients are due to falls.
The CDC also states that between 50 and 75% of all nursing home patients suffer from a preventable fall each year. To give this context, it is estimated that around 2 million American adults are currently residents of nursing homes, which equates to 1 million to 1.5 million suffering from a preventable fall each year.
It is of course the case that many of these accidents are completely without blame at their root. They are simply accidents.
But the same in-depth CDC report also states that up to 27% of nursing home falls happen because of environmental hazards. This means that at a minimum, one third of all those reportable falls happen due to potentially preventable circumstances for which responsibility should be taken by the facility owner.
Environmental issues which can contribute to a fall are widespread. However, common issues include inadequate lighting, poor layout of items that create obstacles, broken equipment and slippery floors.
With the likelihood of a fall twice as high in nursing home patients when compared to elderly persons living in their own home, it is vital that these institutions do everything they can to look after the well being of their residents.
Relatives of nursing home residents will be shocked to learn that almost 1,800 elderly patients die each year as a direct result of a fall.
What Can I Do To Protect My Elderly Relative From A Nursing Home Fall?
When you read about the number of preventable falls in nursing homes and how many people die as a result of these falls, it’s understandable that you want to ensure that the nursing home in which your elderly relative resides does everything it can to protect their safety.
Researchers in Michigan carried out a random sampling of relatives who had loved ones in a nursing home. They found that one in five felt that their relative had been neglected in the past year.
Anecdotal evidence from this research suggested that a significant proportion of preventable accidents were due to neglect, ignoring the obvious risks and failure or refusal to meet the needs of especially vulnerable patients.
After a fall an elderly person can be fearful of walking around. This leads to reduced independence and quality of life which can lead to a functional decline in the patient. In addition, the feeling of helplessness can lead to anxiety, which in turn can lead to depression.
In terms of your elderly relative, you should look out for the following warning signs:
- Bruises, cuts or abrasions that have not been reported to you by the nursing home
- An obvious decrease in physical movement
- Anxiety if required to walk from one location to another
- A sudden change in mood that is not otherwise explained
- Evasion of answering questions relating to how staff are treating them
In terms of the nursing home, you should consider the following to determine the level of vigilance they have in relation to preventing unnecessary falls:
- Observe if staff pay any attention to residents walking around
- Ask if sensors are in place that sound an alarm if an elderly patient gets out of bed
- Look for equipment in place to help elderly people move around
- Ask what training standards are in place that relate to fall prevention strategies
- Ask what their risk management strategy is in relation to falls
- Find out if rehabilitation is in place for residents who fall, for example, therapy or exercise
Get Legal Help For A Nursing Home Fall Resulting From Negligence
The truth is that accidents happen. But the truth also is that many falls in nursing homes are completely preventable.
A nursing home should take the time to assess each patient for the risk they carry in relation to falling and that risk should be regularly revisited. If this is not done, attention to detail is poor, and training is inadequate, then it could be a case of nursing home negligence when an elderly patient falls.
If your loved one has fallen in their nursing home or has had any other type of accident while a resident there, then you should look carefully at the circumstances surrounding the incident. It could be the case that negligence, and/or abuse has occurred.
If you think that your relative has suffered a loss of physical and/or mental mobility due to a nursing home fall, then you should talk to an attorney who has experience in nursing home neglect and abuse cases.
State and federal laws allow nursing home victims, or their loved ones, to file for civil damages in relation to pain and suffering, financial exploitation, medical negligence, wrongful death, and other preventable circumstances.
Donaghue & Labrum have helped many victims receive the compensation and justice they deserve from nursing home neglect. By taking legal action you are forcing the nursing home to confront poor care standards and to raise the standard of care they provide to elderly people who deserve only the very best in their twilight years.