Accidental Falls Injuries in Nursing Homes

Numerous accidental falls occur in nursing homes each year, many of which are never reported by residents.  Serious injuries can result when an elder person falls, including broken bones, head injuries, or even death. Sometimes, an elder person may have a condition that makes injuries sustained from a fall considerably worse than they would be without the condition.  However, nursing homes are under a legal obligation to keep residents safe from abuse and neglect, which includes taking as many precautionary measures as possible to prevent falls.

Conditions that Make Fall Injuries Worse

There are several conditions that occur frequently in the elderly population that can exacerbate injuries sustained during an accidental fall.  More than 95 percent of hip fractures are the result of accidental falls.  The rate of hip fractures in women is nearly twice the rate for men.  This discrepancy is largely attributable to instances of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis can develop in residents when well-balanced nutrition is not being provided. Calcium and vitamin D deficiencies are a contributing factor in the pathogenesis of hip fractures, as the bones are weaker than they should be and cannot withstand impact nearly as well as healthy bones. Both male and female residents should be regularly screened for osteoporosis. And for those residents who do have this condition, nursing home staff should take extra precautions to prevent accidental falls from occurring.

Sometimes prescription medications and drug interactions may cause side effects such as dizziness, drowsiness, or may even affect coordination. These conditions can make a fall considerably worse.  A sense of loss of balance can cause a person to overcompensate, which can lead to a heavier fall as if the individual was throwing him or herself towards the ground.  This same outcome can happen for residents who are afflicted with vertigo.

Simple Solutions to Prevent Accidental Falls

There are many simple precautions that can be taken by nursing home staff to help prevent the incidence of accidental falls. For example, placing necessary items, such as TV remotes, water glasses, call buttons, or oxygen masks, near the bedside within easy reach of the resting resident can help prevent these accidents. Floors in living areas and heavily trafficked areas should not be slippery or slick and should be clean and free of obstacles.  Hand railings on the sides of the bed, in bathrooms and in the hallways of the nursing home can also help prevent accidental falls.

Indications of A Fall

A fall is one of the forms of nursing home abuse that may result in visible injuries on the resident’s body.  Sometimes residents are unable to communicate that they have suffered from a fall, either because they lack the ability to communicate, or because they have cognitive impairments.  Any unexplained breaks in the skin, cuts, scratches, gashes, swelling, bruising, or discoloration of the skin should be noted, as they may be an indication that a fall was sustained by the resident.  Similarly, if the resident complains of pain or grimaces, or is unable to move a limb, has limited mobility or dexterity in a limb, or if the resident is carrying the limb in a strange and unusual way, these should be taken into consideration and scrutinized carefully.

If your loved one resides in a nursing home and is the victim of a fall caused by negligence, please call The Rooth Law Firm at (800) 350-0646 for more information.