An elderly resident of a nursing home could suffer a fall and injure themselves from a simple accident. The reason that family members of an elderly loved one make the choice to place their senior in a nursing home oftentimes has to do with the fact that they want constant monitoring to ensure their loved ones’ safety and care. While some falls are genuine unavoidable accidents, falls in nursing homes, according to the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, may classify as a sign of elder abuse and neglect.
Causes of Falls in Nursing Homes
An elderly resident could simply miscalculate a step or fail to properly find their footing; however, nursing homes have a responsibility and obligation to carefully monitor and ensure that every senior under their care receives proper attention to minimize the risks of falls in older people. Some causes of falls that occur in nursing homes include:
- Overmedicated or undermedicated residents, leading to confusion or dizziness.
- A lack of adequate lighting, handrails or guardrails both in private rooms and common areas.
- Failure to supervise during group activities.
- Failure to supervise when a resident requests assistance going to the restroom, or leaving their bed or wheelchair for any reason.
- Inadequate supervision throughout the day.
- Inadequate nursing home employee training or failure to hire qualified employees.
- Failure to repair or clean hazardous or dangerous conditions, such as loose rugs or wet floors.
- Failure to properly position a resident in their bed or wheelchair, leading to the resident attempting to reposition themselves, resulting in a fall.
There are several causes of falls. For this reason, every nursing home should create a personalized care plan for each elderly resident in their nursing home. The care plan should specifically include instruction if a resident has any kind of cognitive dysfunctional issues or receives medication that may make them drowsy or dizzy. These residents should receive additional attention and care to ensure that they do not fall at any time on the nursing home premises. Even without a fall risk listed on a personalized care plan, every resident should receive appropriate monitoring throughout the day to ensure that they do not fall.
Additionally, every nursing home should have specific protocols in place to prevent falls and fractures in their facility. For example, residents who live at a higher risk for falls should receive frequent checks to see if they need to go to the bathroom or need food or water so that they do not attempt to get up without assistance. Bed positions and bed rails placed appropriately ensure that residents can get in and out of bed safely. If a resident should not get out of their bed by themselves, a nursing home employee should monitor them closely. Finally, every nursing home should have skilled and trained employees that frequently monitor residents according to the established protocol. Every nursing home should ensure that their facility remains staffed appropriately so that understaffing does not result in elder neglect or abuse, which can lead to falls in a nursing home.
Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
In cases of nursing home neglect, overworked and understaffed nursing homes simply do not have the resources to ensure that every resident receives proper attention, which may lead to residents attempting to go to the bathroom or find a snack for themselves. Falls often occur when residents who need assistance walking become frustrated and attempt to walk somewhere on their own without help. In other cases, nursing home staff act negligently and fail to properly monitor and respond to the needs of nursing home residents, which may cause falls that result in serious injuries or even death.
When an elderly resident of a nursing home falls, they may suffer serious injuries and lose even more mobility. Oftentimes, an elderly person may begin a decline of health following a fall that resulted in a bone fracturing or breaking. In some cases, the fall can ultimately lead to months or years of medical treatments or the death of the elderly resident.
Get Help from a Nursing Home Fall Lawyer
If you suspect that your elderly loved one in a nursing home suffered a fall caused by elder abuse or neglect, immediately contact the nursing home management to let them know. Additionally, you can consider contacting Adult Protective Services or law enforcement if you believe the fall results from nursing home abuse. Finally, contact a nursing home fall lawyer at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm to help you understand your legal rights. If we take on your case, we may help you build a strong elder abuse or neglect case on behalf of your loved one. Call us at (800) 842-6336.