Nursing Home Falls and Fractures

A well-run nursing home should be able to prevent most falls. Nursing homes recognize that nursing home falls can happen for for the following reasons:

  • Declining physical condition
  • History of falls
  • Confusion and poor decision-making
  • Medications
  • The need for assisting devices, such as canes or walkers.

The staff should be attentive to patients at risk of falling and ensure that they receive proper foot care and shoes and that have (and know how to use) appropriate walking aids. They should eliminate environmental hazards, such as poor lighting, slippery floors, and incorrect bed height, which cause nearly 30 percent of nursing home falls. When these issues are neglected, falls can and do occur, and residents suffer.

As a result Nursing homes are required to make ongoing assessments of the fall risk for each resident and to develop plans to prevent a nursing home fall from occurring. They are also required by federal regulations to keep the facility free of the hazards that can cause accidents. The following is a list of some of the issues at the heart of nursing home fall lawsuits:

  • The adequacy of the fall risk assessment
  • The adequacy of the treatment plan
  • The implementation of that plan

Many nursing home residents suffer from osteoporosis, commonly referred to as brittle bone disease. This makes them especially vulnerable to injury if they fall. Broken hips and other fractures are often the result of a nursing home fall, and if the person is also suffering from malnutrition or has some other health condition, which impedes healing, recovery can be slow and may never be complete. Many studies have shown that fractures often have an adverse effect on the life expectancy of the nursing home resident.

The statistics regarding falls in nursing homes are alarming:

  • The largest single cause, at 36 percent, of potentially preventable hospital emergency room visits made by nursing home residents is injury due to a fall.
  • The wrongful death of approximately 1,800 nursing home residents each year can be attributed to fall-related injuries.
  • A typical, 100-bed nursing home reports 100 to 200 falls per year -- more than one per patient -- and many falls aren't reported.
  • Adults 65 and older are four times more likely to die of fall-related injuries if they live in a nursing home than if they do not.
  • Over a third of fall-related injuries happen to residents who can't walk.

Between 10 to 20 percent of nursing home falls do cause serious injuries, which can lead to loss of function and disability; the resulting fear of falling can also lead to further loss of function, social isolation, and depression. If your loved one has fallen and been injured please contact our nursing home fall attorneys for a free consultation.

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