Yes, nursing homes can be held liable for falls. While every case is different, nursing homes have the responsibility and obligation to ensure that their elderly residents do not suffer injuries from falls.
Risk of Falling in Nursing Homes
The risk of falling in a nursing home is common among elderly residents. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 1,800 elderly residents die from falls in nursing homes each year.
Oftentimes, elderly residents do not have the same amount of mobility as they age and require the use of walkers, wheelchairs, or canes to move around the nursing home facility. Additionally, with this lack of mobility comes less balance in situations such as standing, sitting, or using the restroom. Oftentimes, nursing home facilities attempt to minimize the risk of falling for their elderly residents by installing grab bars, cushions, or by keeping beds and chairs at heights that are easier to manage for their residents.
Nursing Home Responsibility
Because nursing homes are liable for falls, they have a specific responsibility and obligation to ensure that their elderly residents do not suffer injuries. For a nursing home to be liable legally for a resident’s fall, the victim must show that the nursing home failed in one of the following areas:
- Did not have an appropriate plan of care for a resident at risk of falling.
- Used improper care techniques leading to the fall.
- Failed to follow the existing nursing home facility protocol including resident access to assistant call buttons.
- Failed to correct or fix any hazardous conditions that proved to be a danger to residents, such as wet floors or inadequate lighting.
- Failed to regularly reevaluate a resident’s condition regarding their mobility.
- Failed to assist a resident to a bed or a chair as per their individual needs.
- Hired unqualified employees or offered inadequate training to employees.
- Failed to staff the nursing home with an adequate number of employees to ensure that residents were properly monitored.
Additionally, it is important to note that if a resident’s health worsens after a fall, a victim may pursue an additional charge of negligence, abuse, or neglect against the nursing home.
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Signs of a Fall in a Nursing Home
In some cases, the nursing home staff will attempt to cover up the fact that one of their residents suffered a fall. It is important to recognize possible warning signs that your elderly loved one fell in their nursing home facility. Any physical signs such as bruises, broken or fractured bones, or abrasions could signal that your loved one suffered a recent fall. If the elderly resident appears to have any serious injuries, you should seek medical attention on their behalf immediately.
Action Plan Following a Fall
If you believe that your elderly loved one suffered from a fall in a nursing home, you should request all records related to the fall, including treatments provided following the fall, and medications prescribed. Make sure to document all of your loved one’s injuries, and request a copy of the actual medical chart kept by the nursing home. If you believe your elderly loved one suffered from any abuse or neglect, you should contact Adult Protective Services or the police.
Difference Between Slip-and-Fall Cases and Nursing Home Fall Cases
There is a drastic difference between establishing a slip-and-fall case against a homeowner or business and establishing the legal liability of a nursing home. There are five key differences between these two types of cases:
- Assessment – Nursing homes have a responsibility and a legal duty to assess each resident, and create a special plan regarding their proper care which each employee should follow. The nursing home staff creates this assessment based upon the ability of an elderly resident to move and their personalized risk of falling.
- Adequacy – Nursing homes must create care plans for each individual patient that are adequate to prevent falls for that specific resident, and then ensure that each employee follows that care plan.
- Implementation – As previously indicated, each employee of the nursing home must adequately implement the elderly resident’s care plan every day.
- Review – The care plan for each resident must receive a continued review to determine if any adjustments need to occur to ensure the elderly resident’s safety.
- Revision – If the nursing home determines that an elderly resident needs additional safety measures to ensure that they do not suffer from falls, these revisions should take place immediately.
As evidenced above, nursing homes are liable for falls, and they have a duty and obligation to ensure that each resident is safe and protected through specific and detailed plans of action.
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Contact a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
If you believe that your elderly loved one suffered a fall in a nursing home due to the staff’s negligence, abuse, or neglect, contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 842-6336 to help you begin the process to receive compensation for your elderly loved one’s injuries.