Senior citizens in long-term care facilities are among the most vulnerable members of society. Patients in nursing homes are often in poor health when they arrive, and their medical conditions can make them susceptible to falls. If a frail resident does fall, he or she may suffer serious injuries, such as broken bones and head trauma, that can cause the individual’s overall condition to worsen.
Nursing homes may not be able to prevent falls in all circumstances, but managers, medical personnel, and rank-and-file staff members should work to minimize the risk. Nursing home residents can fall for a variety of reasons. In many cases, it is not clear whether a fall was simply an accident, whether employees acted negligently or committed abuse, or whether multiple factors came into play.
Under the Nursing Home Reform Act, all residents in U.S. nursing homes have a right to live in a safe environment, which the facility must keep. If the environment in the nursing home is unsafe, and it led to your loved one’s fall, the nursing home could be liable.
If your loved one was hurt in a fall at a long-term care facility, an Atlanta falls lawyer could investigate to figure out what happened and whether the facility is liable. If the nursing home’s employees failed to provide a safe environment, or if staff neglected or abused your relative, we may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit seeking financial compensation. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm to talk to a member of our team about your loved one’s injuries and what you know about the circumstances that led to the fall.
Why Senior Citizens Are at Risk of Falling in Nursing Homes
Senior citizens have a higher risk of falling than the general population due to age, poor eyesight, arthritis, and physical disabilities that make it difficult to walk. In addition, nursing home residents typically take medications to treat various health problems. Many residents take several medications per day. Those drugs can cause side effects, such as drowsiness and dizziness, that increase the risk of falling.
A nursing home resident may fall if a floor is wet or if a room or hallway is poorly lit. That could be an isolated incident, or it could point to a larger problem, such as understaffing at the facility.
If a nursing home has inadequate numbers of employees working, other problems can result. For example, if a staff member is not available to take a resident to the bathroom or to give the individual their cane or walker, the resident may decide to try to walk to the bathroom without assistance and fall. The nursing home could be found liable for neglect.
If a resident falls because staff members did not pay attention to medication side effects and provide assistance, the facility can be held liable. A nursing home can be found guilty of abuse if the staff gave a resident unnecessary medication to keep them sedated and docile. The practice of using chemical restraints is a form of abuse, and it can lead to accidental falls.
Some falls in nursing homes are a result of physical abuse. For example, an employee may push or trip an elderly person and intentionally cause the individual to fall. Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can investigate how your loved one’s fall happened. Contact a member of our team today.
How Georgia Law May Apply to a Case Involving a Nursing Home Fall
Under GA Code § 16-5-101, a person who cares for a disabled adult, an elderly person, or a resident of a long-term care facility and who deprives that person of healthcare, shelter, or necessary sustenance commits neglect. An employee who neglects a disabled adult, elderly person, or resident of a long-term care facility may be punished by imprisonment or a fine.
For a free legal consultation with a Atlanta Falls Lawyer serving Atlanta, call (800) 794-0444
How Nursing Homes Can Reduce the Risk of Falls
It may not be possible for nursing homes to prevent falls entirely, but managers and staff have a responsibility to take steps to reduce the danger to the people in their care. Nursing home employees should evaluate patients upon admission to assess their fall risk and create plans to prevent falls.
Nursing homes can modify facilities to keep residents safe. For example, they can install raised toilets and grab bars in bathrooms, and provide residents with lowered beds. Medical staff should review the side effects of the medications senior citizens take, and make sure that residents receive necessary vision care.
Elderly patients can be encouraged to exercise and can receive physical therapy to increase their strength and improve their balance and coordination. If a person falls, the nursing home should investigate the cause and take steps to prevent future falls.
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How an Atlanta Falls Lawyer May Be Able to Help Your Family Seek Justice
Pintas & Mullins Law Firm was founded in 1985 to address the widespread problem of abuse and neglect in nursing homes. Our firm has worked to seek financial compensation for victims and their families. We have handled cases involving nursing homes throughout the United States.
We understand that your family may not have the financial resources to pay an attorney up front. Our firm works on a contingency basis, which means that we will only be paid a fee if we recover a financial award on your loved one’s behalf.
During an initial consultation, we can listen to what your family member experienced in the nursing home. We can then conduct an investigation to uncover as much information as possible about:
- Your relative’s medical history.
- Conditions at the nursing home.
- Steps the facility did or did not take to reduce the risk of falls.
- What types of actions staff members took after your loved one fell.
If we find that the facility was negligent because it failed to provide a safe environment, did not properly address your relative’s medical needs, or did not take appropriate action after the fall, we can file a personal injury lawsuit to seek financial compensation.
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Your family has a limited amount of time to act. According to GA Code § 9-3-33, the statute of limitations to file a personal injury lawsuit is two years. The sooner you contact us, the sooner an Atlanta Falls Lawyer will be able to begin gathering information and working to pursue justice. Call our office to talk to a member of our staff.