One of the most common injuries in long-term care facilities are falls. A nursing home is responsible for making a safe environment for all patients but, unfortunately, many times this responsibility is overlooked.
It is a major misconception that falls are just a normal part of aging. Instead, falls are often an early sign of illness or stem from hazardous environmental conditions, which slip under the radar of an untrained or irresponsible staff.
Falls can result in fractures of the femur, hip, humerus, wrist, ribs or a subdural hematoma in cases where an elderly nursing home resident strikes their head in a fall. Unfortunately, many injuries can lead to hospitalization where seniors run the risk of immobility complications or iatrogenic illnesses, increasing their risk for long term institutionalization or even death.
Underscoring the seriousness of a fall, a recent finding indicates that the mortality rate in older adults increases 5 to 8 times three months after a hip fracture, with the risk persisting over time. To keep our elderly family members safe and healthy in a nursing home facility, fall prevention must be a top priority.
To prevent falls, nursing home staff must be alert to medical conditions that may contribute to a fall and take protective measures to ensure the safety of those in their care. Falls may result in residents who experience orthostatic hypotension or who experience bouts of dizziness. Other causes may relate to the effects of prescription drugs residents are taking.
Staff should know the medical status of each resident and what prescriptions they may be on to determine if these factors may contribute to a fall. Staff should routinely ask residents to self-assess their abilities and perform fall risk assessments such as a Timed Get Up and Go (or TUG) to determine if there is a risk for falls.
To limit environmental factors that may cause a fall, nursing homes should ensure the availability of grab bars, provide adequate lighting, provide warnings of fall hazards such as slippery floors or uneven surfaces and avoid using throw rugs, cords or other objects that a resident can trip on. Staff should have training in fall risk reduction techniques to help to protect seniors in their care.
If your family member has been injured in a fall at a nursing home facility, they may be at risk for complications stemming from the fall or be at risk for future falls due to the negligence of the staff. Contact Des Moines nursing home neglect and abuse lawyer John T. Hemminger for help if your family member has been hurt in a nursing home setting. We will hold the facility accountable to prevent future incidences of negligence and seek compensation for your loved one’s injuries. Call today at 515-283-2116.
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