How to Prevent Fall Risks in Nursing Homes
January 8, 2019
Falls are the leading cause of death for individuals age 65 and older. The death rate for seniors has increased by 30 percent between 2007 and 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Every year, three million older people are treated in emergency rooms for fall injuries. Understanding risk factors associated with falls and recognizing ways to reduce these falls can help protect nursing home residents.
If your loved one was injured by a fall that you believe was caused by nursing home negligence, an experienced Phoenix nursing home abuse attorney at Phillips Law Group can help.
Risk Factors for Nursing Home Falls
Falls happen more often in nursing homes than in the community. Nursing home residents may have existing medical problems that make them more prone to falling. They are often less mobile and older. They may also suffer from chronic diseases, cognitive decline or the inability to perform daily tasks.
Some risk factors that contribute to falling include:
- Muscle weakness
- Environmental hazards like broken or uneven steps, throw rugs, clutter, poor lighting, wet floors or incorrect bed height
- Difficulty with walking or balance
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Vision problems
- Changes in medication type or dosage
- Improper elder foot care
- Attempts at walking in a room or in the facility without assistance from nursing home staff
- Use of sleeping medication, anti-anxiety, antidepressant or tranquilizers
Many falls are caused by a combination of factors. Reducing these risks can help protect nursing home residents.
However, many falls in nursing homes are due to the nursing home’s negligence. Nursing homes are responsible for establishing fall prevention programs. Nursing homes must assess new residents for their possible fall risk. They should review their medication list to see if they are at an increased fall risk. Additionally, nursing home staff should be educated about potential fall problems. When these measures are not taken, residents can become injured.
Consequences After a Fall
Falls can lead to significant injuries, especially for the elderly or infirm. Some of the consequences of falls include:
- Traumatic head injuries ”“ Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries. These injuries can be serious, especially when a patient is already taking certain medications, such as blood thinners.
- Hip fracture ”“ Falls commonly cause hip fractures. More than 95 percent of hip fractures are due to falling. Every year, about 300,000 older people are hospitalized because of hip fractures.
- Serious injury ”“ One of out five falls causes a serious injury. This may include head injuries, fractures, internal damage or other injuries. Falls can cause wrist, arm or ankle fractures.
- Increased medical expenses ”“ Total medical costs for falls were $50 billion in 2015.
- Fear of falling ”“ Individuals may become afraid of falling and curtail their activities.
How to Prevent Falls in Nursing Homes
Many falls can be prevented. Some ways to reduce falls in nursing homes include the following:
- Establishing a fall protection plan ”“ Nursing homes should establish fall protection plans to protect residents. This includes educating the staff about falls, risk factors for falls and how to prevent them. In the unfortunate event of a fall, also assessing the resident and treating the underlying health condition that contributed to the fall in the first place.
- Reviewing medication lists ”“ The nursing home should review a resident’s medication list to see if any of medication may make them sleepy, dizzy or otherwise affect their balance or fall risk.
- Giving vitamin D supplements ”“ Vitamin D can help strengthen a resident’s bones.
- Implementing exercise activities ”“ Having physical exercises can improve strength, balance and overall mobility for residents with cognitive impairments.
- Removing hazards ”“ Rugs should be removed. Floors should be regularly inspected for possible hazards. Spills should be cleaned up immediately. Light bulbs should be replaced immediately. Grab bars should be placed inside the bathroom.
Speak with a Qualified Attorney Today
If your loved one fell in a nursing home, it may be an indication that the nursing home was not properly caring for your loved one. At Phillips Law Group, we can investigate your claim and determine if nursing home negligence played a part. We have helped many families recover compensation after nursing home residents were injured due to the carelessness of facilities.
We can discuss your case during a free, no-obligation consultation. We work on a contingency fee basis, so we will not charge any attorney fees until we have successfully recovered compensation on your behalf.
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