Falls & Trauma
Falls are a leading cause of death among those over 65 years of age. The resulting injuries can have a significant impact on the resident’s overall health. Falls are the most frequent cause of broken bones among the elderly, and hip fractures are the most common. Hip fractures frequently require surgical intervention, have a long recovery period, and can result in long-term disability. Studies have shown that one in four elders who suffers a hip fracture will die within six months of receiving the injury. Nursing homes have an ongoing duty to assess a resident’s risk of falling. For residents who are at risk of falling, nursing homes must have a strategy for preventing falls and minimizing the risk of harm in the event that an unavoidable fall should occur.
How common are falls?
Fifty percent (50%) of the elderly living in nursing homes suffer a fall each year, accounting for approximately 1,800 deaths annually. In a 100-bed nursing home, conservative estimates show that there are 100 to 200 reported falls each year. The fall incidence in nursing home elderly is three the rate for non-nursing home elderly. Environment hazards, such as the lack of safety devices, account for 16% to 27% of nursing home falls.
There are a number of devices that nursing homes use to prevent falls:
- low beds surrounded by padded crash mats
- chair and bed alarms
- canes and walkers
- handrails or grab bars in the bathroom
- lap buddies
- transfer belts
- electronic or hydraulic lifts
However, the most important fall prevention measure is for a nursing home to be properly staffed with competent nurses and aides. For example, in a recent case we handled, a resident received a fatal head injury when she was dropped while being transferred in an improperly-operated Hoyer lift. Even safety devices can be the cause of a dangerous fall if they malfunction or aren’t used properly!
The Star Tribune published a three-part investigation report about the significance of nursing home fall incidents. Reporters Glenn Howatt and Pam Louwagie have put together an excellent expose on a problem the Kosieradzki Smith Law Firm has been fighting for years – preventable falls in nursing homes with catastrophic and deadly consequences.
If you believe a loved one has suffered a fall or other trauma because the nursing home failed to do its job, take action and contact the Kosieradzki • Smith Law Firm online or call us toll-free at (877) 552-2873 to set up a FREE CONSULTATION.