Falls, Fractures, and Other Physical Trauma

A fall, even one that does not occur from a significant height, can have devastating effects on an elderly nursing home resident. Broken or fractured bones and head injuries can require long hospitalizations and lead to a decline in an individual’s overall health. Nursing homes are responsible for evaluating their residents for their risk of falls and preventing them from falling.

Common Injuries from Falls in a Nursing Home
  • Broken or fractured bones , including hips, wrists, arms, and ankles
  • Head injuries , such as concussions, brain hemorrhages (bleeding in the brain), or other types of brain injuries
  • Lacerations , which are deep cuts or tears in the skin
  • Bruises
  • Pain

Falls are far too common in nursing homes, and they can have serious consequences. Surgery to repair broken bones can be dangerous for elderly nursing home residents. Sometimes surgery is not an option, and an individual can be forced to live with permanent pain or disability. Meanwhile, head injuries can lead to a decline in a resident’s mental status or memory among many other issues. Lacerations, if left untreated, may become infected and lead to other health issues.

Increased Risk of Falling

A person’s balance deteriorates with age, and that deterioration naturally increases the chances an individual might fall. Some conditions, medications, and factors can further increase a resident’s risk of falling. For example, residents with a history of falling are much more likely to fall again. Residents with memory or cognitive problems are at higher risk because they might not know their limitations. Meanwhile residents, who require a cane, walker, or crutches, are also more susceptible to falling. Medications, such as sedatives, antidepressants, and narcotics, put residents at an increased risk of falling. Some nursing homes use physical restraints to decrease the risk of falls, but, in reality, restraints can actually increase the likelihood of injuries and death from falls.

Preventing Falls

Nursing homes are responsible for assessing residents and preventing falls. Residents should be assessed regularly for the risk factors associated with falling, and nursing homes should take appropriate actions to prevent falls. Regular exercise to improve balance and gait should be offered by the facility. Environmental modification, such as lowering bed heights, raising toilet seats, and keeping walkways unobstructed, can significantly reduce the chance of falls. Residents taking medications that increase the risk of falling should be monitored and evaluated regularly. As restraints can actually increase the likelihood of injury from falls, their use is a sign that appropriate care measures are not being implemented because of short-staffing or a lack of funding.

If a nursing home fails to recognize that a patient is at high risk for falls or if they take no action to prevent falls, they are putting their patients at unnecessary risk for life threatening injuries. If you suspect your loved one is not being given the care they need, ask questions of the caretakers at the nursing home in order to find out what measures are being taken. If you feel they are not adequately caring for your loved one or a loved one has suffered injuries related to a fall, do not hesitate to call us. Our attorneys have years of experience with cases involving injuries and falls at nursing homes, hospitals, and assisted living facilities. We can help insure your loved one receives appropriate care and seek justice for incidents of neglect or abuse that have already occurred.