Fall Injuries in Pennsylvania Nursing Homes
Facilities have a responsibility to prevent residents from falling
A nursing home’s most basic responsibility is preventing residents from falling. Falls can be dangerous for anyone, but they are particularly deadly for senior citizens in frail health. Nursing home residents who fall can suffer severe injuries like broken hips and brain injuries. A slip and fall, in some cases, can have life-threatening consequences. Too often, these incidents happen as a direct result of nursing home abuse or neglect.
Nursing home falls can seem unexpected, but it is up to the facilities to prevent falls from happening. When safety measures are ignored, nursing homes must be held accountable. At Hal Waldman & Associates, we are dedicated to holding nursing homes accountable for their negligence.
How common are nursing home falls?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one out of four older people experience falls every year. Sadly, many falls go unreported because facilities want to avoid legal repercussions.
Causes of nursing home falls
Epilepsy or other seizure disorders
Residents with epilepsy can have unexpected seizures. These seizures can make them lose consciousness and move suddenly and without control. Without control over their bodies, residents can fall during a seizure, especially if they are not being properly supervised.
Injuries and illnesses
Existing injuries and illnesses like osteoporosis can impact a resident's mobility and balance, making them more vulnerable to falls. A resident with a medical condition that affects the hip or leg can suffer pain in the affected area, making it hard to put weight on the side with the injury. Being unable to bear weight on one side can make walking difficult and cause a resident to fall from losing balance.
History of falls
A history of falls places nursing home residents at an increased risk of experiencing more falls in the future. Residents who have experienced past falls may have underlying medical conditions such as muscle weakness, osteoporosis, or other disorders that affect balance. These health issues and more affect mobility and coordination.
Medication side effects
Certain medications can have side effects that impact a resident’s balance, making falls more likely. Medications like antidepressants, tranquilizers, or sedatives can cause dizziness, drowsiness, confusion, or changes in blood pressure, increasing the risk of falls, especially when residents are being moved.
Some cognitive disabilities, including Alzheimer's disease, affect judgment, awareness, and decision-making. Residents who suffer from such conditions have an increased vulnerability to falls. Disorientation and confusion from cognitive disorders can cause residents to become unaware of their surroundings. This can cause them to slip, trip, and fall on environmental hazards.
Keeping nursing homes safe is essential to prevent falls and eliminate slipping or tripping hazards. These hazards include but are not limited to:
- Slippery floors
- Poorly maintained walkways
- Poor lighting
- Cluttered spaces
- Loose rugs
- Uneven floors
- Uneven stairs
- Broken or insufficient presence of handrails
Lack of staff
Inexperienced staff and understaffing can increase the risk of a resident suffering from a fall. With a lack of staff, there may be delays in attending to residents. Trying to move without supervision can lead them to fall, primarily if a resident uses a walking aid.
Inexperienced staff may lack sufficient training, making them unaware of the preventive measures for nursing home falls. They may also leave residents unsupervised.
Nursing home fall injuries
Nursing home residents can suffer a range of injuries from slipping and falling. While they may suffer from minor injuries due to their age, falls more often leave residents with severe injuries. Some injuries commonly sustained in nursing home falls include:
- Fractures (broken bones), especially the hips, arms, and wrists.
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and other head injuries
- Sprains and strains
- Soft tissue injuries
- Internal injuries
Nursing home falls can cause severe physical injuries and emotional trauma for the residents involved. Following a fall, a resident may be fearful of walking around, especially near the site of the fall.
Nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys fighting for safer facilities
Nursing home falls can cause serious harm, and when your loved one is hurt, you feel pain too. The legal team at Hal Waldman & Associates fights hard to make sure facilities are held accountable for their negligence. No resident should suffer a fall because they weren’t properly cared for. Let us be your partner in protecting your loved one’s rights. Contact us today for a free consultation.