Yes. All broken bones hurt. Broken bones cause pain, swelling, and inflammation. Depending on the type of injury, an elderly resident may not feel pain specifically at the area where the bone broke, but in other places. For example, broken hips often refer pain to the knees. The resident may also report numbness and tingling from a broken bone.
Broken Bones in Nursing Homes
With decreased muscles and fat, along with osteoporosis, the elderly often experience more severe injuries after a fall than do younger individuals. The most common broken bones and fractures in the elderly population in nursing homes include bones in the hips, thigh, pelvis, back, arm, hand, ankle, or leg. The ability to move a joint above or below an injury does not necessarily mean the bone is not broken; it simply means that the tendons and muscles near and surrounding the joint still work.
Often, broken bones and fractures may occur by accident, but in other cases, a broken bone can serve as a warning sign of nursing home abuse or neglect.
Causes of Broken Bones in Nursing Homes
Falls represent the most common cause of broken bones and fractures in nursing homes. However, falls often result from abuse or neglect by a nursing home staff member. Some of the types of abuse or neglect that can lead to broken bones may include the following:
- Physical abuse
- Failing to secure a resident’s feet and legs in a wheelchair properly
- Failing to remove clutter or heavy objects in common walking areas
- Placing objects high up or insecurely in common areas or in a resident’s room
- Improper lifting of a resident from their bed
- Improper transferring of a resident from their bed to a wheelchair
- Inappropriate footwear
- Failing to provide mobility aids to a resident to help them get in and out of their wheelchair
- Inattention to a resident, which causes them to feel the need to walk to get food, water, or another necessary item
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While all elderly residents in nursing homes suffer the risk of broken bones, some factors will increase a resident’s risk of a break or fracture. Consider the following:
- Women suffer a greater risk of fractures and breaks in nursing homes.
- Residents who have already experienced one bone break or fracture stand a higher risk for another one.
- Residents with a current bone break or fracture suffer a higher risk for another one.
- Any resident suffering from osteoporosis or decreased muscle or fat stands a greater chance of bone breaks and fractures.
- The risk of breaks and fractures increases with residents living with Parkinson’s disease, dementia, diabetes, vertigo, or dizziness.
- Any resident who wears prosthetics or who has a missing toe or foot may experience difficulty transitioning from sitting to standing and have a greater risk for a fall, which can cause a bone break.
Additionally, not all nursing home residents will immediately know that they have broken a bone. Some nursing home residents may complain of pain and should receive proper medical attention as soon as possible to determine the source of their pain and discomfort.
Broken Bones Represent a “Never Event”
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), a “never event” is an unambiguous, serious, and usually preventable incident that should never occur. Any patient injury associated with a fall within a health care setting is among the 29 “never events” itemized by the HHS. Nursing homes represent a health care setting under these circumstances. Therefore, nursing homes should implement fall-prevention protocols that include monitoring and helping residents who may be at risk for falling and breaking a bone.
Compensation Available for Victims of Nursing Home Abuse
If your elderly loved one suffered abuse or neglect in a nursing home, and this abuse or neglect led to broken bones, you deserve to receive compensation. The severity of the bone break or fracture, the exact circumstances that caused it, and more, can factor into the compensation amount. However, some of the damages you might recover include the following:
- Medical bills
- Diagnostic testing, such as x-rays and MRIs
- Physical therapy
- Accessibility and/or mobility aids
- Pain management
- Prescription medication
- Trauma from pain and suffering
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Contact a Nursing Home Lawyer
If your elderly loved one suffered a broken bone or fracture in a nursing home, you need to quickly determine how the injury occurred and the presence of any nursing home staff at the time of the accident. You should request detailed medical reports and ask your elderly loved one specifically what happened that led to the accident.
If you suspect circumstances that point to nursing home negligence or abuse that caused the broken bone or fracture, contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 842-6336 to help you determine your legal rights.