Managing Fall-Related Risks and Nursing Home Neglect

Q2191986_noun_108043_ccNicolasVicent_elderly.svgWhen you have a loved one residing in a San Diego nursing home, it is extremely important to think about how the facility is managing fall risks. According to a fact sheet from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), millions of seniors suffer injuries from falls each year, and about 25% of the elderly population will fall in any given year. As the CDC points out, about 20% of those falls among seniors result in serious injuries such as a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or broken bones. More than 800,000 older adults require hospitalization because of a fall-related injury each year, and around 300,000 seniors need to be hospitalized specifically because of a hip fracture. All in all, approximately 2.8 million elderly adults are treated in emergency departments each year due to falls. Of those seniors who get hurt, about 1,800 die as a result of their injuries.

Since falls are so common among older adults, and given that they often result in serious injuries, what should nursing homes do to help prevent falls from happening? If nursing facilities in San Diego do not take proper precautions when it comes to fall prevention, can they be liable for nursing home neglect?

Nursing Home Falls Occur in Many Different Contexts

Nursing home falls can happen in many different circumstances. As an article in the Huffington Post explains, family members often learn that their elderly loved ones suffer serious fall-related injuries after falling out of a bed. The article goes on to clarify that “falls occur at least twice as often in nursing homes than among elderly people living in the community.” In nursing facilities with 100 beds, the typical number of falls reported by the facility is between 100 and 200 each year. The CDC expects, however, that there are many additional falls that are not reported.

Falls are such a serious problem in nursing homes that around 50% of residents will suffer one fall per year. While some of those falls do not result in serious injuries, it is possible that they could have been prevented.

How do most falls happen? The article cites numerous situations in which falls tend to occur, including but not limited to:

  • Falls out of beds without guardrails installed;
  • Following the use of medications that make it difficult for patients to maintain balance;
  • Gait problems or disorders among residents who are not properly monitored; and
  • Attempts by residents to get out of bed and to the toilet without proper monitoring from staff.

Nursing Home Must Do Fall-Risk Assessments to Keep Residents Safe

Nursing homes must perform fall-risk assessments on patients, the article makes clear. Such assessments must examine any medical conditions that could make a patient more likely to fall, and the facility must institute a plan to prevent that resident from suffering a fall-related injury. Many falls can be prevented, as well, with increases in staff members to ensure that residents can be properly monitored.

A program from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality emphasizes how nursing homes need to assess the causes of falls in their facilities and to “build a culture of safety” in which preventable falls do not happen.

Contact a San Diego Nursing Home Neglect Lawyer

If your elderly loved one suffered a fall-related injury at a nursing home in Southern California, you may be able to file a nursing home negligence claim. An experienced nursing home neglect lawyer in San Diego can help. Contact the Walton Law Firm today.

See Related Blog Posts:

Nursing Home Abuse and Mental Illness

Choosing the Best Nursing Home for Your Loved One


(image courtesy of Nicolas Vicent)

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