Personal Injury & Nursing Home Abuse
Pittsburgh and Western PA

The High Cost of Broken Bones in Nursing Homes

Facilities need to protect their residents from life-altering injuries

One of a nursing home’s most basic responsibilities is to protect residents from injury. Nursing home residents need close supervision and attentive care to get through their daily activities safely. Unfortunately, that’s not always what happens in practice. Nursing home abuse and neglect can cause devastating injuries, and some of the most consequential are fractures (broken bones).

When nursing homes fail in their responsibilities and residents get hurt, their families have legal recourse. If your loved one sustained a broken bone in a Western Pennsylvania nursing home, an experienced attorney can explain your rights and options.

Why nursing home residents are at risk of broken bones

Fractures can happen to anyone, of course, but elderly and disabled nursing home residents are particularly vulnerable for a variety of reasons. Broken bones among nursing home residents are common because of:

  • Brittle bones and osteoporosis. Many nursing home residents have medical conditions that make their bones more brittle, such as osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, and low bone density.
  • Poor balance and mobility. Nursing home residents are more likely to lose their balance and fall, increasing the risk of a fracture.
  • Poor eyesight. Nursing home residents may have difficulty seeing and navigating around trip hazards and obstacles, which again increases the risk of an accident that can cause a broken bone.
  • Substance use history. Many seniors living in nursing homes have a history of smoking or alcohol use, which can lead to lower bone mass and bone mineral density.

In addition to the increased risk of suffering a broken bone in the first place, nursing home residents also have longer recovery times and a greater risk of complications during treatment and recovery. Their complex medical needs are only further complicated by a fracture.

Types of broken bones sustained in nursing homes

Any of the 206 bones in the human body can be broken, but some types of fractures are particularly common in nursing homes, including:

  • Collarbone fracture: the collarbone is one of the most frequently fractured bones because it is so delicate. Nursing home residents may break their collarbones when falling out of bed, chairs, or wheelchairs.
  • Ankle fractures: when a person slips and falls, the small bones around the heel absorb most of the pressure, leading to fractures. The ankles can also be injured during twisting and stretching as part of routine activities.
  • Arm fractures: when seniors fall, the natural reflex is to use the arms to break the fall, meaning they take the brunt of the impact. Fractures can affect the humerus (upper arm bone) and/or the radius and ulna (forearm bones).
  • Broken legs: the femur (upper leg bone) is the largest and heaviest bone in the body, but it can still break with sufficient force, especially if the resident suffers from osteoporosis or low bone density. Broken femurs are intensely painful injuries.
  • Compression factors: the vertebrae, or bones in the spine, can spontaneously break even without a fall or other visible incident. Compression fractures are often caused by osteoporosis or spine-related injuries.
  • Stress fractures: joints, such as the knees and ankles, can experience stress fractures due to repetitive motion. These can happen in nursing homes if the facility has not implemented adequate care plans to protect residents from excessive levels of strain.

The role of nursing home abuse and neglect in broken bones

Again, one of a nursing home’s most important responsibilities is protecting residents from preventable accidents. That includes providing residents with appropriate assistive devices such as canes, walkers, and wheelchairs. It means properly maintaining bedrails, railings, and so on to allow residents to get out of bed and navigate their environment safely. It means eliminating trip hazards and cleaning up spills promptly to avoid slip and falls. And it means providing adequate lighting to ensure residents can see where they are walking.

Unfortunately, some nursing homes fail to maintain a safe environment, leading to preventable falls that can cause broken bones. Understaffed facilities may not have enough staff on duty to physically assist residents who need help; this, too, can lead to preventable falls and serious injuries. Allowing preventable accidents to happen is a serious form of nursing home neglect that can have life-altering consequences.

Furthermore, some broken bones are a result of nursing home abuse. While many falls are accidents, some occur when a resident is shoved or pushed. Acts of abuse can be committed by staff, other residents, or visitors, but either way, it’s the nursing home’s responsibility to keep residents safe.

Finally, when broken bones do occur, nursing homes need to administer prompt medical attention and care to avoid complications and allow the bones to heal. Unfortunately, many nursing homes fail to promptly treat such injuries, leaving presidents in pain and vulnerable to further harm. This sort of medical neglect is unacceptable.

Consequences of broken bones for nursing home residents

A broken bone is a serious injury for anyone, but for nursing home residents who are already in frail health, the cost can be far higher. Broken bones often require surgery and a lengthy recovery period. During recovery, a resident’s already limited mobility is severely curtailed. Broken bones are also intensely painful injuries, and that pain can substantially affect a resident’s quality of life.

Unfortunately, for too many victims, a broken bone is the beginning of cascading health issues. Again, many fractures require surgical repair, and going under anesthesia can lead to other health complications, such as breathing difficulties. While a resident is in bed recovering from a broken bone, they may develop pressure ulcers (bedsores). If the nursing home fails to adequately care for the resident during their recovery, life-threatening complications can follow.

How an experienced nursing home neglect attorney can help

If your loved one sustained a broken bone in a nursing home, you deserve answers. An experienced nursing home abuse lawyer can help. Our attorneys understand how nursing homes operate and know how to get the facts. We’ll review documents, interview witnesses, ask the right follow-up questions, and work relentlessly to get to the bottom of your loved one’s injury.

Our experienced legal team works hard to get maximum results for our clients. That includes full and fair financial compensation for your loved one’s medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other costs related to the broken bone. It also means sending a strong message that nursing home abuse and neglect will not be tolerated by holding facilities accountable.

If your loved one was hurt in a nursing home, talk to an experienced nursing home abuse and neglect attorney today. The consultation is free and there is no obligation to hire us, just answers about your rights and options. Give us a call or contact us online today. Our office is located in Pittsburgh and we serve clients throughout Western Pennsylvania.

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