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Falls & Fractures in Nursing Homes

Falls in nursing homes are common occurrences.  An average nursing home carrying 100 to 200 beds reports 100 people falling every year.  Another study showed that the mean incidence of falls in nursing homes is a surprising 1.5 falls per bed.  In addition, about 1,800 elderly individuals die each year from fall-related injuries.

Injuries from falls are especially damaging to elders due to their brittle bones.  Many elders who fall suffer broken bones, fractures (commonly hip fractures), chronic problems or even death.

How to Treat Falls and Fractures

Any injury resulting from a fall should be evaluated and treated.  If the patient has sustained a fracture, he or she may have to undergo surgery to repair the fracture.  However, complications such as blood clots, infection and pneumonia after the surgery are heightened for older individuals.  Further, recovery after hip surgery is a long and painful process.

If your elderly loved one has suffered a fall as a result of nursing home negligence, notify the nursing home facility immediately.  Also, contact your local Adult Protective Services (APS).  A list of Adult Protective Services’ contact information organized by California counties is provided here.

Finally, contact your local ombudsman to report the negligence.  Their Crisis line phone number is 1-800-231-4024, or visit the California Department of Aging website for a list of county ombudsman phone numbers in California.

What Places a Patient at a Higher Risk of Falls?

Individuals who enter nursing home or assisted living care are often frail and in delicate physical and mental states.   The condition of the patient is often the cause of falls in nursing homes.

The most common causes of nursing home falls include:

  • Muscle weakness of the patient or gait problems.  Gait problems exist when the elder is unable to control his or her center of gravity, resulting in balancing problems.
  • Environmental hazards such as wet floors, incorrect bed height and bad lighting cause 16% to 27% of nursing home falls.

Medication can also increase the risk of falling.  Therefore, the nursing home must pay particular attention to the dosage and reaction of the patient from administering the prescribed medication.

Other causes of falls can be attributed to difficulty in moving the patient from one place to another, insufficient number of staff assisting a resident with bed to wheelchair transfers, incorrect use of walking aids and poorly fitting shoes.  Environmental factors are also causes of falls among the elderly, which can include wet and slippery floors, poor lighting, lack of necessary bedrails or overmedication resulting in loss of balance.

Contact York Law Firm

If your elderly loved one has suffered an injury resulting from a fall due to the nursing home’s negligence, the attorneys at York Law Firm can help.  We will determine whether the nursing home was negligent and then assess the strength of your potential case. We invite you to contact our practice or fill out a free case evaluation.

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