Nursing Home Fall Injuries

senior citizen that has fallen over

Falls in nursing homes are extremely common. Residents living in these long-term facilities often suffer from physical or medical conditions that make them more prone to falling. Even without any medical conditions, elderly residents are frailer, in general, because of the aging process. Many of these falls are the result of nursing home negligence and may often be avoided.

Elderly residents do not heal as quickly. Some injuries they suffer from falls, such as head injuries, could be fatal, especially if nursing home staff fail to follow proper care protocols.

Nursing home facilities are responsible for taking preventative measures to eliminate fall risks at their facilities. They have a legal duty to provide residents with a safe and clean environment.

At PKSD Law firm, we are prepared to help you and your loved ones throughout the legal process. Our personal injury attorneys have successfully represented many residents who suffered serious or fatal falls due to nursing home negligence.

Request a FREE case review today: 505-677-7777

Aftermath of a Fall

A resident suffering a fall is often not the primary issue. It can, however, serve as a trigger for multiple conditions that could further deteriorate a resident’s health or become fatal. Falls can lead to pneumonia, depression, infections and muscle loss. Falls that result in fractures and immobility further complicate things by increasing a residents risk of developing pressure sores. Falls may also result in psychological responses that further hinder a resident’s mobility and ability to be active. Immobility can prevent deep breathing. This can make residents more susceptible to skin breakdown pressure sores, bladder infections and lung infections.

Up to 20 percent of patients die within a year after an injury from a fall. Even when a patient survives after a fall, they may still face significant disability and have a reduced quality of life. In many cases, a fall may worsen a patient’s pre-existing conditions.

Injuries From Falls and Bed Rails

State law mandates that nursing homes must have a written doctor’s order to be able to use bed rails to restrain a nursing home resident. However, bed rails are often used without question or proper orders from a doctor. Some caregivers mistakenly believe they are either an effective safety measure or pose no harm. However, bed rails can be hazardous, potentially causing asphyxiation and strangulation.

Another common danger of bed rails is when residents try to climb over them without assistance from a nurse aid or caregiver. In doing so, many residents end up falling to the floor in the process. This type of fall is particularly dangerous and more likely to result in severe injuries because of the increased height. The FDA and Hospital Bed Safety Workgroup have warned about the dangers of bedrail use.

Reducing Falls

Effective intervention can greatly reduce the risk of serious or fatal injuries from nursing home falls. Fall prevention program have been shown to lower the risk of falls by as much as 19 percent. Additionally, nursing homes can effectively implement these programs at relatively low cost.

Nursing home staff are required to monitor residents who may be at risk of falling. They also need to be available to transfer fall-risk patients in and out of their beds and wheelchairs to help prevent falls.

Beneficial interventions may include:

  • Conducting thorough assessments of residents to identify risk factors and address underlying medical conditions.
  • Implementing physical therapy, gait training, walking programs and strength-building exercises.
  • Making environmental adjustments, such as installing bathroom grab bars, increasing the height of toilet seats, adding handrails in hallways and common areas, and reducing bed heights.
  • Reducing the use of medications, especially psychoactive drugs that can cause dizziness and impair balance.
  • Ensuring call bells are within residents’ reach and train them to request assistance when getting out of bed.
  • Providing sufficient staff to help residents with mobility, walking and going to the bathroom.
  • Educating staff on proper fall prevention techniques.
  • Enhancing safety, utilizing and responding to alarms and motion sensors.
  • Using mats, Hoyer lifts, sitters and non-skid shoes or slippers can also help prevent falls.

Establishing an Effective Care Plan

Nursing home staff need to create a care plan to prevent injuries in nursing homes. This plan should include conducting a thorough assessment of each patient upon admission and assessing that resident’s risk of falling.

Based on this evaluation, the nursing home must develop a care plan that addresses fall prevention. This plan should include the use of safety devices and detail the level of assistance each resident needs for getting out of bed, walking and using the toilet.

For the care plan to be effective, nursing homes and their staff must consistently follow it. Incoming staff must also be trained on these care plans, and nursing homes must ensure there are sufficient staffing levels. Failing to implement and follow a proper care plan could constitute nursing home negligence. If a resident gets injured as a result, it could be grounds for a lawsuit.

Speak to One of Our New Mexico Nursing Home Abuse Attorney

nursing home fall injury attorneysIf you or a loved one is the victim of any type of nursing home abuse or neglect, seek legal consult immediately. Our experienced New Mexico personal injury attorneys are prepared to protect your rights and ensure you receive compensation for injuries and other related damages.
Taking legal action against an abusive or negligent nursing home cannot eliminate the tragic incident but it could help your loved one seek justice. It also helps prevent similar dangers that could happen to other residents, improving the quality of care in nursing homes.

Call our law offices to discuss your potential legal options: 505-677-7777

Back to top