Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect Attorneys Serving Prince George's County, Anne Arundel County, Charles County, Baltimore, and in the Maryland, Washington, DC, Metro area.
Nursing Home Falls and Fractures
Nursing homes are required to take precautions to ensure that they are operating a safe facility with minimal fall hazards. If a resident falls, the injury sustained has the potential to significantly impact their everyday lives. If you have a loved one who has recently fallen and broken a bone at a nursing facility, we will carefully review your case to determine if negligence was the cause.
Unexplained Broken Bones, Cuts, and Bruises
Some 90% of broken bones suffered by individuals under nursing home care are a direct result of falling. While mostly unavoidable, it’s an unfortunate reality that a number of broken bones, cuts, or bruises can also be a direct result of nursing home abuse or neglect. Due to the general forgetfulness, weakness of muscles, and other contributing factors, it’s difficult to determine which injuries are innocent and which came as a direct result of improper care. Broken bones are the most obvious examples of improper care as they will have the longest-lasting pain and discomfort. Rest assured, unexplained cuts and bruises should also be noted, questioned, and followed up on if they continue to appear.
In most cases, it may take both medical, and legal experts to analyze the specific situation and determine the root cause of the injuries to your loved one.
Why do Nursing Home falls happen?
There are several factors that contribute to the number of falls that occur within a nursing home. Most nursing home patients are either elderly, injured, or both. With increasing age, muscle weakness becomes more and more apparent, which can result in a fall. Injuries that affect the walking or gait of a resident can also be contributing factors to falls. Regarding injuries, ensuing medications and dosages could also play a role in whether a fall does or doesn’t occur.
Hubris, excessive self-confidence, can also result in falls if a resident is attempting to move from one place to another under their own power when they should only be doing so under close supervision, or assistance of the nursing facility staff.
Improper elder foot care, or using shoes that do not properly fit can directly result in a resident falling and potentially injuring themselves. Some more avoidable causes of falls would be the environment of the nursing home facility, including poor lighting, wet floors, improper bed height, or inadequate wheelchair size.
How Can Falls be Prevented in Nursing Homes?
Preventing falls [in-part] in a nursing home occurs on a management level of the facility. One method of preventing falls is educating both residents and staff on how to avoid hazardous situations in the nursing facility. Increasing exercise for residents would directly address one of the main contributing factors of falls – muscle weakness. Staff should be reviewing the resident’s records when being given medications to determine if they are fall risks. Continual education of staff members about falls, risk factors, and prevention efforts would dramatically decrease the rate of falls and improve the overall health of the residents of the facility.
Facility upgrades can drastically reduce the likelihood of residents falling and injuring themselves. Such upgrades could include raised toilet seats, handrails, grab bars, and decreased bed heights. The following procedure post-fall will expose the cause and potential area of improvement at a facility. The problem occurs when the same issue is repeatedly present and not addressed. This is putting both the residents and the facility in jeopardy.
The following are important resources to consider when choosing an assisted living facility for your loved one, as well as reporting suspected incidents of nursing home abuse:
- Medicare Five-Star Quality Rating System
- CDC FastStats – Nursing Home Care
- Board of Examiners of Nursing Home Administrators Complaint Process
- Register of Wills
- Centers for Medicare and Medicaid: Find and Compare Nursing Homes
- Maryland Department of Aging
- Maryland Department of Healthcare Quality
- Administration for Community Living
- United States Department of Justice: Elder Justice Initiative (EJI)
Fear of a Caregiver
A nursing home patient who is the victim of any form of injury will likely grow fearful of a caregiver. If your loved one is showing signs that indicate fear such as acting disconnected from family and friends or acting out in a different way, they may be receiving poor and unlawful treatment related to nursing home injuries.
When to seek help
As you can see above, while some falls are unavoidable, a fair number are not. If you or a loved one notices continual injuries, bruising, unexplained, or undocumented falls, you should contact a legal professional and voice your concerns.
Potter Burnett Law will carefully review the evidence or signs to ensure that the patient is placed out of harm’s way and receives justice where due. The lawyers at Potter Burnett Law in Bowie, MD have the experience to represent you and your loved ones in cases of nursing home injury and assisted living facility injuries.