Falls & Injuries in Nursing Homes
An unfortunate fact of life is that many people cannot care for themselves as they age. Thus, their loved ones must make difficult decisions about their healthcare. Nursing homes or assisted living centers become options for their elderly relatives.
More than 1.4 million Americans age 65 or over live in these facilities. And with baby boomers aging-out; that number is certain to rise. These living centers are regulated and overseen by the Kentucky Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) Division of Health Care to ensure they provide a basic level of medical care as well as assistance with day-to-day activities.
Though most do an adequate job, there are notable lapses in care, such as an industry-wide issue with residents who are injured in falls. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has done a great deal of research on injuries in nursing homes; they report that each year around 1,800 older adults living in nursing homes across the U.S. die from fall-related injuries. Those who survive often experience disability, functional decline, and lower quality of life. Fear of falling and becoming injured can cause many people to suffer depression, feelings of helplessness, and social isolation.
Other CDC data on nursing home/elderly care fall-related injuries include:
- About one-third of fall-related injuries happen to residents who are not ambulatory (are unable to walk by themselves).
- Each resident is likely to fall two or three times a year.
- Between 10 and 20 percent of nursing home falls result in serious injuries with two to six percent causing some sort of fracture.
The CDC also reports that falls occur more frequently to nursing home patients than to elderly people who are able to liveindependently in their own homes. The Center concludes that this may be partially due to the fact that nursing home patients typically have underlying medical conditions which required their moving into a managed care facility prior to their fall. Nursing home patients may also experience severe problems with cognitive ability, chronic diseases, and difficulty performing daily tasks, all of which can factor into an accidental fall.
For those who are not cognitively challenged prior to their fall, elderly people who do fall in a nursing home find themselves further challenged by a subsequent fall-induced disability, according to the CDC.
If you believe that your loved one has suffered an injury or a decline in their health due to a fall at their nursing home, you should consider contacting an experienced elder care attorney to investigate if the facility where they are staying is responsible.
Common Causes of Falls in Nursing Homes
Although nursing home residents are prone to falling since they are often frail or disabled, in many cases a facility’s staff contributes to a fall by failing to follow the proper standards of care. Falls can be a direct result of nursing home abuse. Some of these causes can include:
- Abrupt changes in medication
- Absence of reliable bedside summoning devices, such as call buttons or alarms
- Improper bed height
- Incorrect use of walking aids
- Improperly fitted or maintained wheelchairs
- Inadequate supervision
- Poorly trained staff, or not enough staff
- Muscle weakness due to negligent care
- Poor foot care
- Poor lighting
- Poorly fitting shoes
- Wet floors
All assisted living facilities and nursing homes are required by federal law to assess each resident at intake and to create and follow an individualized care plan that will adequately protect his or her health and safety. Failure to create such a plan, as well as failure to regularly reassess it, is negligence on the facility’s part and can be the basis for a lawsuit.
Free Legal Consultation
The Kentucky nursing home injury lawyers at the Johnson Law Firm have experience with complex injury claims such as unnecessary falls in a nursing home or assisted living center. We can review the circumstances surrounding a fall to determine whether your loved one may be entitled to compensation.
If you believe that fall of your friend or loved one could have been prevented, request a free consultation with us by calling 606-437-4488 or contact us online. Seasoned Kentucky nursing home abuse attorney Billy Johnson and his staff know the differences between accidental falls and those caused by nursing home abuse or negligence, and how to uncover signs of negligence during an investigation. Let him help you get the answers you and your elderly family member or friend deserve.
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