Accidental trips and falls are the leading cause of injury and even death of residents living in nursing homes in the United States. With about 1,800 deaths annually that are either directly or indirectly related to a fall, it is important for nursing home staff members to take precautions to prevent accidental falls from happening in the first place.
Poor and Insufficient Lighting Can Cause a Fall
When a room has inadequate lighting, it can be difficult to see objects that may be on the floor that are obstructing a walking path. Many residents trip during the night in their rooms, as they are going to the bathroom or getting a drink of water, on cords that are sprawled across the floor or stumble over trash bins that are not stored safely under a piece of furniture, such as a desk or table. Poor lighting conditions also make it difficult to assess where exactly walking aids are located near the bed and whether there are any sudden changes in the elevation level of the floor, such as a slight step down, a staircase or a raised bump in the floor. Darkness often affects a person’s depth perception.
How to Improve Illumination in the Nursing Home
The nursing home staff can take many steps to improve lighting conditions throughout the home. One of the most commonly used techniques to improve nighttime illumination in resident’s rooms is to place nightlights in the resident’s room or bathroom. If a resident finds the brightness of the light disruptive to his or her sleep, a motion detector nightlight can be placed in an outlet that is located low to the ground so that it is only triggered when the resident tries to get out of bed. A motion-detecting nightlight that is set up correctly will turn on prior to the resident getting out of bed, i.e., the light will detect when the resident’s legs are dangling out of bed, just before setting them on the ground.
Similar techniques can be used for nighttime lighting in hallways and corridors. Many nursing homes will dim hallway lights at night to conserve power and to reduce the amount of light that may be entering residents’ rooms as they try to sleep. However, this can create unsafe trip conditions in the hallway. While residents for the most part shouldn’t be out of bed and in the hallways during the night, residents with dementia often will engage in nighttime wandering, which often extends beyond the boundaries of their private room. Hallways can be equipped with motion-detecting lights that turn on and sufficiently illuminate a space when motion is detected, and these detectors can be set to a sensitivity that would detect human motion easily, but would not be triggered by a fly buzzing around the hallway.
Contact an Accidental Fall Attorney
If you or someone you love has been injured in a nursing home by an accidental fall due to poor or insufficient lighting conditions, please contact an experienced nursing home abuse attorney. Contact the attorneys at Rooth Law Firm today either online or by phone at (800) 350-0646.
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Accident Prevention: Slips, Trips and Falls, Health & Safety