Fall Injuries and the Elderly
A fall can be a devastating incident to an elderly adult, causing serious injuries or in some cases, even death. Older adults are more likely to fall and to be injured in a fall which makes them particularly vulnerable and which is why they require extra care during transfers from a bed to a chair or wheelchair and back.
In a nursing home, employees may be required to help assist elderly residents as they walk or transfer to reduce the risk of falls. When proper procedures are in place and are followed, these elderly residents can rest assured that they will not fall and will be properly cared for by those in charge of their safety. But too often, nursing homes are understaffed, underfunded, and employees are pressured to take shortcuts that lead to dangerous situations where patients can fall and become injured. In these cases, the nursing homes and their employees may be held to be financially liable for any injuries that result from their negligence.
Falls are serious among the elderly population and should be treated as a real threat to safety. For example:
- Falls are the leading cause of injury and death among older adults.
- An estimated 16,000 seniors die as a result of fall injuries each year.
- Fall-related deaths among older adults have continued to rise over the past decade.
- Traumatic Brain Injury is responsible for almost half of all fall-related deaths in older adults.
- Elderly fall victims frequently develop a fear of falling, which can limit their mobility and physical fitness, shorten lifespan
and result in other health complications.
- Adults over 75 are at five-times greater risk of falling than those ages 65 to 74.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; National Institutes of Health.
The risk of falling increases with age. Nationwide, one-third of adults over the age of 65 will suffer a fall this year, according to the National Institutes of Health. Despite the risk and the certain knowledge that falls are among the biggest threats to an elderly resident’s health and welfare, nursing home falls in Chicago have reached epidemic proportions and are often caused by neglect
The nursing home attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. urge anyone dealing with a nursing home fall to contact our office today for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights and your loved ones.
Surveys report that the average cost of a nursing home stay is more than $50,000 per year. We entrust our loved ones to the care of a nursing home precisely because we want to do everything possible to ensure their health, safety and well-being. Yet nursing home residents are up to four-times more likely to be killed in a fall, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As many as three-quarters of nursing home residents fall each year – more than twice the rate of falls among older adults in the community. And, while only 5 percent of older adults live in nursing homes, they account for 20 percent of all fatal fall injuries. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that a typical 100-bed nursing home reports 100 to 200 falls per year. That means everybody fell twice! Yet, advocates contend that many more falls go unreported.
Inadequate staffing, improper training, poor supervision, insufficient medical care and over-medication can all lead to serious or fatal nursing home falls. The government reports that negligent nursing home conditions – including wet floors and poor lighting – account for as many as one-fourth of all nursing home falls.
Fall injuries are often very serious, particularly in older adults, where such injuries are the leading cause of injury-related death and the most common cause of loss of mobility and independence. Each year, more than 1.8 million older adults are treated for fall injuries. Common injuries sustained in a fall include Traumatic Brain Injuries, hip and joint fractures and bone fractures in the spine, arms, hands or ankles.
Hip fractures are among the most serious fall injuries and are the leading cause of injury and loss of mobility and independence among older adults. Half of all seniors who suffer a hip injury will be unable to return home or live independently.
Additionally, the use of restraints as a fall-prevention measure is ineffective and can even lead to associated injuries. Limiting a patient’s movement can actually result in physical weakness that can increase the risk of a fall injury.
Nursing Home Fall Prevention
- Nursing homes frequently fail to diagnose an underlying medical condition that leads a patient to fall. A patient who falls once, should not be allowed to fall again. Assessing medical and risk factors and making appropriate adjustments are critical to reducing a resident’s risk of falling.
- Proper assessments of the benefits and risks of a patient’s medication can be critical in reducing the risk of a fall.
- Proper staff training and education.
- Changes to environment, including bed height, grab bars and handrails.
- Alarms and other patient-monitoring equipment.
If your family is dealing with the serious injury or death of a loved one as a result of a fall in a nursing home or assisted living facility, contact the Chicago nursing home neglect lawyers and fall injury attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. to discuss your rights. We can be reached 24 hours a day toll free at (855) LAW-CHICAGO (529-2442) or locally at (312) 924-7575 and everything discussed will be kept confidential. At Abels & Annes, P.C., there are no fees unless you win.
If you believe your loved one has suffered from abuse or neglect while in a nursing home in the Chicago area, Contact Us online or call (855) LAW-CHICAGO today for a free consultation.