Nursing Home Slip & Fall Injuries
Fall-related injuries are a major health threat for nursing home residents. Older people who live in nursing homes tend to fall more frequently than those who live within the community. When older people fall, their injuries tend to be more severe than younger adults. They don't heal as quickly, and they may even suffer from permanent damage. Along with their injuries, they may also have an increased fear of falling, which can cause depression, social isolation, and feelings of helplessness.
The law requires nursing home residents to receive adequate supervision and assistive devices to prevent slip and fall accidents. When a resident enters a nursing home, administrators must evaluate them and create a plan of care based on the person's health – including risk of falling. The nursing home must then take the proper steps to help the resident get around and limit those risks as much as possible.
Unfortunately, however, many nursing home residents fall because of the nursing home's negligence.
How Do Slip and Fall Accidents Happen in Nursing Homes?
Slip and fall accidents happen in nursing homes for a variety of reasons. Examples include injuries caused by:
- Wet floors
- Poor lighting
- Lack of necessary bedrails and improper bed height
- Bedrails used improperly, resulting in restraint abuse
- Improperly maintained or fitted wheelchairs
- Tripping hazards in rooms or hallways
- Medications, especially psychoactive drugs
- Difficulty in moving patients, or assisting them to the restroom, due to understaffing
- Insufficient staff to answer call buttons
- Lack of working call buttons
- Failing to properly train staff in lifting and handling techniques
- Failing to adequately supervise residents
- Poor foot care
- Weakness and gait problems linked to malnutrition and/or dehydration
- And more
Tips to Prevent Fall-Related Injuries to Nursing Home Residents
The best way to protect your loved one from falling in a nursing home is to develop a fall prevention plan. You should:
- Consult your loved one's doctor and request placement in a physical conditioning or rehabilitation program that might include exercises to improve strength and endurance, physical therapy, a walking program, etc. Remember, there are many benefits to keeping people mobile as long as possible, including greater muscle strength, independence, ability to interact with the environment, greater sense of well-being, preservation of dignity, and greater self-esteem.
- Request modifications to improve mobility and safety in your loved one's nursing home room, such as grab bars, handrails, raised toilet seats, and proper bed height.
- Find out if the nursing home has an alarm system that activates when a resident tries to get out of bed or move without assistance.
- Make sure your loved one has regular eye check-ups. Poor vision can put the elderly at a greater risk for falling.
- Know how to use the call bell correctly so you or your loved one can get fast assistance to get out of bed.
- Make sure assistive devices like wheelchairs, walkers, and canes are properly maintained and fitted.
- Make sure their shoes fit properly, are in good condition, and have sufficient tread.
- Review all prescribed medications and discuss their potential risks and benefits with the doctor. Side effects of medication may place an older person at a higher risk for falling.
- Remove throw rugs, electrical cords, and any other items that might cause a person to trip and fall in his or her room.
Ensure that the entire facility is well lit.
Trust Edgar Snyder & Associates to Help With Your Slip & Fall Nursing Home Abuse Claim
One fall in a nursing home does not necessarily mean the nursing home is guilty of negligence or nursing home abuse. Accidents do happen, and many elderly residents are at a high risk for slip and fall accidents.
However, if the nursing home knew a resident was at risk for slipping and falling, staff members must take the right steps to prevent accidents. If they didn't, the nursing home can be held liable for negligence or responsible for allowing a type of nursing home abuse to occur.
In evaluating a potential case involving a fall and injury, we review the medical chart for the following information:
- How many falls occurred, and how soon after admission to the home?
- Was the fall witnessed by a staff member, other resident or family member?
- What documentation of the fall exists on the medical chart?
- Did the staff complete a fall risk assessment and care plan when the resident was admitted to the home?
- If so, was the plan of care followed, updated when necessary, and were safety precautions taken to prevent falls?
- What were the physician orders regarding how much assistance a resident needed to get out bed and walk?
- Was the resident on medication that caused drowsiness, confusion, or weakness?
- What injuries did the resident suffer as a result of the fall?
If the injuries sustained as a result of the fall are not serious, such as bruising, and injuries did not require medical treatment, they may not justify the cost of filing a lawsuit. On the other hand, if the injuries are serious, especially if the resident has a history of prior falls at the nursing home, you should contact our law firm for a consultation. You may have a case.