Falls are one of the most frequent causes of broken bones and other serious injuries or wrongful death among the elderly. Broken bones and fractures in the elderly nursing home residents are particularly serious as they can lead to dangerous health conditions, including pneumonia, loss of appetite, bed sores, brain injuries and infections. Nursing homes are supposed to regularly and adequately assess a resident to determine if she is at risk for falls. If so, the nursing home is required to provide a safe environment to lessen the chance that dangerous falls occur. If an elderly relative fell in a nursing home due to the facility’s negligence, you may be able to file a claim to get your loved one the help he or she needs. Call our nursing home abuse and falls attorney in St. Louis, David Terry, for a no-obligation consultation.
There are several ways to provide a safe environment, including:
- Providing safety devices to prevent falling.
- Providing a sufficient number of staff members to supervise, monitor, and assist at risk residents.
- Regularly modifying and updating the care plan specific to that individual so as to insure that all appropriate steps are taken to provide appropriate care to the resident.
- Take appropriate housekeeping measures to prevent tripping hazards.
Injuries Directly Related to Nursing Home Falls
If an Illinois or Missouri nursing home fails to provide appropriate care or to take adequate precautions while a resident is under their care, it may be liable for any damages suffered by the resident. If your family member has been injured or has died from injuries sustained from one or more falls at a nursing home in Missouri or Illinois, feel free to call our office and let’s chat about your case. The call is free, confidential and you have no obligation to hire us.
Studies have shown that 25% of the elderly who suffer a hip fracture will die within six months of the injury. At first, there appears to be little connection between hip fractures and subsequent pneumonia. However, when one considers that exercise is one of the best methods of preventing pneumonia in elderly, the connection becomes clearer. When an elderly person is able to walk, they are getting exercise that causes them to expand their lungs to the fullest. After a fall that results in a hip fracture, elderly individuals recover slower and are likely unable to get any exercise as a result of being bedbound. Lack of exercise leads to lack of lung expansion which then often leads to pneumonia. Sadly, the pneumonia is often fatal.
Subdural Hematoma (Head Injury)
Elderly persons who fall often lack the mental ability or physical strength to cushion a fall by using their arms. As a result, nursing home falls often result in residents striking their heads on the ground resulting in skull fractures, subdural hematomas, or other forms of brain injuries. Sadly, these injuries are often fatal. If the resident does survive the initial injury, they may suffer from long term brain trauma.
When an ambulatory elderly person falls and loses their ability to walk and be mobile, they are often confined to a bed or a wheelchair. All too often, understaffed nursing homes leave residents for long periods of time in beds and wheelchairs. If a person remains in one place for too long the prolonged pressure may result in a bed sore (also known as a pressure sore). Left untreated, bed sores can create serious health problems for the resident leading to infection and even death. Moreover, bed sores are incredibly painful for the resident. Fore more information about bed sores refer to our bed sore page.
Prevent Residents From Falling in St Louis Area Nursing Homes
Nursing homes on both sides of the river have many practices that they can initiate to prevent residents from falling. One of the most basic and most important options available is consistent monitoring and regular supervision. Unfortunately, while supervision is one of the easiest things for a nursing home to do, it is one of the least utilized. Why? Because most nursing homes are severely understaffed. They simply do not have a sufficient number of staff members on duty at any given time to adequately supervise all of their patients. The fault for this typically lies with the corporate home office that dictates the nursing home budget. However, poor training and lack of proper supervision at the facility level is also a notorious problem.
Other measures that can be taken to prevent unnecessary falls include:
- Use of canes, walkers, wheelchairs and lap buddies
- Use of personal alarms
- Placing beds closer to the floor with mats on the ground to protect residents if they fall out of bed
- Remove tripping hazards such as rugs, carpeting, and extension cords, installation of grab bars in bathrooms and handrails on stairs
What Should The Nursing Home Do If A Resident Falls?
Residents who fall must be immediately evaluated by the nursing home staff to determine the reason for the fall and the nature of the resident’s injuries. In cases of injury or even suspected death, the resident’s physician must immediately be called. All too often, nursing homes perform a quick assessment and fail to contact family members or medical providers. In many instances, patients suffer days with broken bones before finally being sent to a hospital.
If a resident has suffered a serious injury, the resident should immediately be sent to a hospital. Medical staff should be especially concerned if the resident suffers from loss of consciousness, fever or abnormal blood pressure and should closely monitor the resident to ensure these symptoms aren’t exacerbated. Once a nursing home resident falls, their care plan should be reviewed by nursing home officials. Efforts must be made to improve the care being provided to that specific resident and to identify steps that will be taken to improve the resident’s safety in the future.
What Should You Do If Your Family Member Is A Fall Risk?
If you know that your loved one is a fall risk, there are several things you can do to improve the care they receive at the nursing home, including:
- Make sure the nursing home does a proper fall risk assessment.
- Visit the nursing home at different times. You do not want the nursing home to know your schedule.
- Insist that the proper number of employees are available to transfer your family member to or from the bed or wheelchair.
- Insist that nursing home employees use all required precautions when assisting your family member with walking.
- Attend every care plan meeting and take notes on what nursing home officials say they are going to do to prevent your loved one from falling. As the nursing home officials to sign your notes and place them in your loved one’s chart.
- If there is a fall, insist on knowing the details of how the fall occurred and what changes will be made to prevent future falls.
How a St. Louis Area Nursing Home Falls Lawyer Can Help If Your Family Member
A nursing home may be found liable for failing to prevent resident falls. Personal injury cases and wrongful death claims hold nursing homes accountable, help protect other residents from similar harm, and can recover money damages for injured persons and their families.
We have successfully held nursing homes accountable for allowing nursing home residents to become injured in unnecessary falls. If your loved one or family member has been injured as a result of falling while under the care of a nursing home, contact the Terry Law Firm to discuss their injuries and legal rights. You can call us toll-free for a no obligation consultation or submit your question here.