A nursing home fall can be extremely serious for your elderly loved one. In fact, the CDC notes that falls are the leading cause of death for adults aged 65 and older.
While some falls may be unavoidable, others are caused by nursing home negligence.
Here’s what you need to know about the consequences of falls in nursing homes, how they might be caused, and what you can do about them.
How Falls Impact Elderly Residents
A fall can mean the end of whatever independence your elderly loved one had left. They can result in the following sorts of injuries:
- Head injuries
- Permanent mobility losses
- An increased risk of blood clots
- An increased risk of life-threatening pneumonia
As we get older, our bones become weaker. A fall that might have fractured a bone in our 40s can shatter a bone in our 80s.
In addition, falls can be traumatic for elderly people who must cope with the loss of bodily integrity.
Nursing homes should be taking steps to prevent falls whenever possible.
Ways Nursing Home Negligence Can Lead to Falls
Here are four ways that nursing home negligence can lead to an increased risk of falls for your elderly loved one.
Lack of Supervision and Inadequate Staffing
As many as 95% of nursing facilities in the United States are understaffed, and the problem worsens on the weekends.
Failure to provide adequate staffing leads to a number of woes. The first and most obvious is inadequate supervision. A skeleton crew can’t be everywhere at once and can’t catch every potential fall risk.
In addition, a lack of staff leads directly to a lack of care. Staff members can’t properly assist residents with meals or toileting if they are stretched too thin. Residents might decide to stand up and help themselves in situations they really shouldn’t, simply to meet their basic needs.
Poorly Trained Staff
Poor staff training is an ongoing problem in nursing homes around the country. The lack of training isn’t even a bug for some for-profit establishments. It’s a feature that allows them to justify low wages and a lack of respect for their staff members.
Poor training plays a direct role in nursing home abuse, not just in falls. It also all but guarantees that the existing staff won’t have a solid understanding of an elder’s needs, which can in turn, lead to the kinds of neglect that promote nursing home falls.
Failure to Implement Fall Prevention Measures
Nursing home staff should be conducting regular fall prevention risk assessments.
Nursing homes should be free from cluttered walkways, wet floors, rippling rugs, and other trip hazards. They should provide adequate lighting at all times.
Nursing homes should also provide mobility aids such as canes, walkers, and wheelchairs. Bathrooms and hallways should have grab balls and handrails. Any wet and slippery surface, like a bathroom or kitchen, should be outfitted with non-slip mats.
Many nursing homes use chemical restraints as a lazy way to “manage” residents, especially when they’re understaffed.
Unfortunately, almost every one of these unwanted drugs exponentially increases residents’ fall risks and death risks.
Your attorney may be able to subpoena medical records showing that nursing home staff gave your loved one unnecessary medication. Your own observations of changes in your loved one’s behavior may also prove useful here.
What to Do if Your Elderly Loved One Falls at the Nursing Home
Start by ensuring your loved one gets adequate medical care for their injuries. Next, file a report with the nursing home.
Take note of any missing fall prevention measures or any unsafe conditions you see. If you notice the nursing home seems understaffed, also note that information.
Next, contact a qualified personal injury attorney as quickly as possible. The nursing home will likely take steps to downplay its culpability. You need to move quickly to prove that they were negligent.
You may be able to get compensation for your loved one, such as payment for their additional medical bills, as well as pain and suffering damages that you can use to move them into a better, safer long-term care scenario.
If the fall resulted in the death of your loved one, you may be eligible to press for a wrongful death suit which could cover funeral costs and any medical costs generated prior to your loved one’s death. In truly egregious cases where the nursing home acted particularly badly, you may be able to press for punitive damages. This means you may be able to hold a bad nursing home accountable for its abuses.
If you think your loved one has been abused or has fallen due to nursing home neglect, don’t wait. Contact our offices to secure help today.