Falls in nursing homes can cause serious injury and lead to the resident’s medical decline and eventual death.  Common fall-related injuries include hip fractures, and head trauma.  A fall can rob the person of mobility and independence, causing an individual to become reliant on assistive devices such as canes or walkers, or lose the ability to walk completely, being either chair dependent or bedbound. Less mobility puts the person at higher risk of pneumonia, bed sores, and other health complications. Residents who fall may also become less active because they are afraid to fall and suffer injury again. Injuries as the result of falls can result in surgery, which have various potential complications, such as infections and blood clots. The recovery time for fall-related injury can be long, and require physical therapy.  An older person might experience ongoing pain following a fall, never truly recovering from their injury.

While the elderly are at an increased risk for falls as their mobility declines, there are other factors that contribute to falls among nursing home patients.  Quite a few medications can make an older person feel dizzy, weak, or light-headed. Painkillers might make your loved one groggy. Other drugs can affect their balance. Incorrect medication or improper monitoring of a resident following administering medications can be a cause or contributing factor of a fall.

Falls may occur when transferring the patient from bed to wheelchair, toilet chair, walker, or standing and back to bed. Transfers are one of the higher-risk situations for falls in a nursing home. When a staff member assists an resident in a transfer, many things can go wrong, such as the staff member lacks the physical strength to transfer the patient safely; the staff member does not have sufficient training and experience in proper transfer techniques; the transfer is not done correctly, despite having the training and physical ability to do so; the nursing home is understaffed, and a resident who was tired of waiting for help tried to transfer by themselves; and the nursing home staff failing to follow the patient’s orders regarding mobility, including failure to properly monitor the resident during ambulation, or performing a transfer without the proper number of staff to assist.

If the nursing home does not quickly clean up spills or slick spots on the floor, a resident could easily slip and fall. Also, loose rugs on the floor, electrical cords, and raised thresholds present a danger of tripping for nursing home residents. 

There are many steps a facility should take to prevent and limit falls amongst its residents.  Nursing homes should be free of environmental hazards, such as loose rugs or electrical cords in walkways.  Every resident should have a routine completed risk assessment which includes past accidents and falls, medications taken, and general physical health. Staff members should be properly trained on fall prevention strategies as well as the risks involved when a resident falls. Nursing homes should be careful to avoid incorrect bed heights and faulty bed rails, which are contributors to falls among residents.  Nursing home staff should always be attentive to residents, and the proper equipment should always be available to those who need help walking.

If your loved one has suffered an injury or wrongful death as the result of a fall while residing at a nursing home, the attorneys at Dworken and Bernstein can assist you in pursuing a claim for compensation.

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