Unfortunately, a broken bone injury will increase the chances of death for an older person. The Endocrine Society recently completed a study that showed broken bones in elderly people increases their risk of death for up to 10 years after the broken bone injury.
Increased Risk with Certain Fractures
The type of broken bone the older person has suffered plays a role in the increased risks of death, according to the study. A fracture with an increased risk of death in the first year after the injury includes:
- Femur or pelvis fractures: the risk increased by 20 to 25%.
- Vertebra fracture: the risk increased by 10%.
- Humerus, rib, or clavicle fractures: the risk increased by 5 to 10%.
- Lower leg fractures: the risk increased by 3%.
Additionally, an elderly person who suffered a hip fracture has an increased risk of death for up to 10 years. Injuries with other broken bones carry an increased chance of death as well, according to the study.
Increased Susceptibility to Broken Bones
One reason for the elevated chances of an elderly person dying from bone fractures is because an elderly person has a higher chance of suffering a broken bone than a young person. The factors that contribute to this include:
- Age: studies show that people aged 65 and older have a greater susceptibility to broken bones, especially in the hips.
- Osteoporosis: this disease, which includes the degradation of bone tissue and is more prevalent in the elderly and can lead to fractures.
- Prior fractures: people who have had a previous broken bone at some point in their life are more likely to suffer another one.
Risk of Falls
Commonly, a broken bone in an elderly person occurs because of a fall. Some bone fractures occur simply because a bone weakens over time and finally breaks under pressure after years of stress. However, it is far more common for the sudden impact of a fall to cause a bone to break.
Some reasons an elderly person may be at a greater risk of a fall include:
- Mental impairment: diseases like dementia or vertigo can cause an elderly person to lose their balance and fall.
- Poor vision: an elderly person cannot see a step or tripping hazard, resulting in a fall and a potential fracture.
- Medication side effects: certain medications result in weakness for an elderly person, increasing the risk of a fall and broken bones.
- General weakness: an elderly person does not have the strength to stand up on their own, possibly falling out of a chair.
- Abuse: an employee at a nursing home may push or strike an elderly person, leading to a loss of balance and a fall.
Other items beyond those we have listed here can lead to a fall and broken bones for an elderly person.
Prevention of Fracture Risks
When living at home, a resident may not have the equipment or nursing help needed to reduce the risk of falls, which may lead to a broken bone.
When a resident at a nursing home becomes a fall risk, employees must take specific steps to care for that person. The nursing home must also designate the resident as a fall risk for the steps to go into effect. This designation is essential for the safety of the resident.
A nursing home must fulfill the medical needs of its residents, as well as their basic care needs. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services outlines the federal laws a nursing home must follow when caring for individuals who have a fall risk designation. There are also individual state laws that nursing homes must follow as well.
Creating a Safe Care Environment
The majority of employees in nursing homes do not intend to harm anyone. However, through their actions or inactions, they may have created an unsafe situation that could result in negligence or abuse.
It is important to report any incidents of potential negligence as soon as they occur. Without corrections to dangerous situations, the chances of a fall may increase, elevating the risk of an elderly person dying from a broken bone.
If you have reported some unsafe situations in your nursing home, but you feel the administration is ignoring the reports, you may need an attorney on your side. Some nursing homes do not respond to complaints until a third party becomes involved. Look to the Pintas & Mullins Law Firm to defend the rights of your loved ones. Call us today at (800) 614-4857 for a free consultation. We do not shy away from tough cases, and we work on a contingency fee basis, so you do not pay any attorney fees until you win.