Slips, trips and falls occur all too frequently in nursing homes across the United States, and are often a sign of nursing home abuse or neglect. The difference between a slip, a trip and a fall are subtle, but distinct. A “slip” occurs if there is too little friction or traction between the ground and a person’s foot or walking aid. A “trip” occurs when an object comes into contact with a person’s foot or walking aid or if there is a sudden change in the height of the terrain. A “fall” occurs when a person loses his or her balance.
April Showers Make for Wet and Slippery Walking Surfaces
Many slips are caused by wet or slippery walking surfaces. When it showers outside, many water droplets can be brought indoors on umbrellas, clothing and shoes. If these water droplets deposit themselves on a tile or highly polished walking surface, they can pose as a slip hazard for nursing home residents walking by. Nursing staff should take care to clean up any wet walking surfaces, and should post signs indicating that people walking in the area should use caution. The signs should be vibrant in color and nursing home residents should be educated as to what that colored sign means because some residents have poor vision, which inhibits them from being able to read print, but still allows them to detect color.
Nursing homes can also place special mats in front of entrance ways that are designed to absorb or trap any rainwater that may be carried into the building by wet individuals. These mats can also be designed to stay firmly and flatly against the floor (i.e., will not bunch up) so as to not pose any risk of causing a trip.
Bathrooms and Dining Areas Can Pose as Slip Hazards
There are many other areas of the nursing home that can pose as slip hazard zones, including anywhere that could be a spill zone. Spills commonly occur in dining areas, as some residents have medical conditions that make them prone to accidental spills. Some residents have poor motor control or Parkinson’s disease and may accidentally spill food or beverages on the floor. Spills also frequently occur in residents’ bathrooms. A bathroom spill may be something like mouthwash or denture cleaner, but other times a slip hazard may result if a resident is unable to help themselves to the bathroom quickly enough. Most bathrooms in nursing homes are designed to have a drain centrally located in the floor so that nursing staff can easily clean up such messes. When a bathroom accident occurs, staff should immediately assist the resident in changing clothes, and should clean up the wet floor as soon as possible.
Contact an Accidental Fall Attorney
If you or someone you love has been injured in a nursing home by an accidental fall, you should contact an experienced nursing home abuse attorney to discuss your specific situation. Please contact the attorneys at Rooth Law Firm online or by phone at (800) 598-4348.
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Accident Prevention: Slips, Trips and Falls, Health & Safety