If your loved one is part of the 50 to 75% of nursing home residents who suffered a fall this year, they may be entitled to compensation for their injuries. Falls in nursing homes can have life-changing and even fatal results, but the truth of the matter is, many are preventable. If you suspect that neglect or abuse contributed to your loved one’s fall, speak to a Birmingham AL nursing home abuse lawyer at Petro Law Firm today. We can help you protect your loved one’s legal rights.
Falls in Nursing Homes Frequently Go Unreported
Individuals who live in nursing homes and long-term care facilities are about twice as likely to fall as senior citizens who live at home, and repeated falls are relatively common. Unfortunately, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believe that even though the average nursing home reports 100-200 falls each year, many go unreported.
If your loved one tells you about a fall, you should immediately consult with the nursing staff at their facility. If they deny knowing about the incident, insist on a comprehensive medical exam for your loved one. They may have suffered broken bones, head trauma, and other serious injuries.
You should also ask some hard questions about why the fall was not identified and how the nursing home will prevent further incidents.
Why Are Falls in Nursing Homes So Common?
People who live in nursing homes typically have intense needs and are medically fragile. They frequently have muscle weakness, balance, gait, and cognitive issues that can contribute to falls. However, while some falls are not preventable, many facilities have insufficient staffing and safety policies, making falls more likely.
Some common causes of nursing home falls include:
- Cluttered rooms and common spaces
- Staff’s failure to respond to a call button
- Incorrect bed and wheelchair sizing
- Insufficient access to walking aids like canes and walkers
- Lack of proper foot care or improper shoe sizing
- Medication, including changes in dosing
- Poor lighting
- Slip and falls on wet or uneven floors
Unfortunately, many falls in nursing homes seriously impact the victim’s quality of life. Many senior citizens struggle to recover from broken bones, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), and other fall-related injuries. Research shows that serious falls can result in diminished independence, cognitive decline, and a shortened life span. They can also exacerbate senior citizens’ depression and anxiety.
Who Is to Blame for Nursing Home Falls?
Sometimes, no one is to blame. However, nursing home neglect / negligence can contribute to or cause falls. Nursing homes have a duty to protect their residents and must implement appropriate fall preventions. They must also educate and train their staff about fall risks and prevention methods.
If your loved one suffered a fall, the nursing home may be negligent if it:
- Failed to maintain a clean and safe environment
- Did not recognize your loved one’s fall risk or failed to implement appropriate fall protections
- Neglected to implement fall preventions when using certain medications, such as sleep aids
- Denied your loved one access to their walker or other mobility aid
- Improperly maintained its wheelchairs, walkers, and other mobility aids
- Ignored requests for help with toileting and other self-care needs
- Did not install grip bars and other safety devices in the bathroom
- Failed to diagnose and treat balance, gait, or foot health issues
- Did not have enough personnel to tend to its residents’ needs
- Improperly trained its staff on fall prevention and fall risks
When these violations cause serious injuries to nursing home residents, the facility may be liable for their damages. While nothing compares to a personalized analysis from an experienced nursing home neglect lawyer, your loved one may be eligible for compensation for their medical expenses, pain and suffering, reduction in the quality and duration of their lives, and other losses.
Should Nursing Homes Use Physical Restraints to Prevent Falls?
Studies suggest that using restraints does not reduce a nursing home resident’s likelihood of falling. In fact, restraints can sometimes contribute to falls — especially if the resident tries to free themselves from the restraint system or it is improperly used. Furthermore, limiting a nursing home resident’s mobility can negatively impact their muscle strength and heighten their anxiety and depression.
For this reason, we do not assume that failure to use restraint systems is a sign of nursing home neglect. Instead, we carefully investigate all of the circumstances surrounding their clients’ falls — looking for clear evidence of safety violations, negligent hiring practices, and other errors.
Learn More About Falls in Nursing Homes
If your loved one has suffered serious falls in nursing homes, you deserve answers. At Petro Law Firm, we assist nursing home residents and their loved ones with complex negligence claims associated with falls, bed rail injuries, and other matters. To speak to a Birmingham AL nursing home neglect lawyer, contact us today.