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One of the scariest calls you can get is the moment when the nursing home calls to tell you “Your Mother has fallen and been hurt.” It can send us all into a panic given that this is the one place we thought they would be looked after.
It is especially upsetting when the nursing home cannot or will not explain what happened to cause the fall or take responsibility for the situation. Oftentimes, we put elderly family members in the nursing home because they require more physical assistance and supervision than we can provide to them at home, and it is expected that the nursing home will provide the necessary care and supervision. There is a reason these places charge thousands of dollars a month.
Was the nursing home was providing adequate care? Who was watching her? Were her medications being monitored? While not every fall is preventable, there are standards nursing homes should adhere to in trying to minimize falls and injuries from falls.
First, the nursing home should conduct fall risk assessments on every resident to determine their level of fall risk. Elderly are generally at higher risk for falls due to overall weakness, decreased coordination, decreased awareness of safety, medical conditions, mental impairments such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, and taking certain medications. Thus, it is incumbent upon nursing homes to conduct assessments to determine what specific risk factors the resident has, and to develop a care plan specifically tailored to minimize the resident’s fall risk given their specific risk factors. Care plans can include such things as keeping the resident’s bed low to the floor while the resident is in bed, padded floor mats around the resident’s bed to minimize injury should a fall occur, keeping the area free from fall hazards, providing a call light that is readily accessible to the resident should they need assistance, chair and bed alarms to alert the staff when the resident tries to get up alone, keeping the resident in a high visibility location for supervision, as well as many other interventions that can address and lessen fall risk.
Unfortunately, some nursing homes fail to conduct adequate fall risk assessments, many fail to tailor the care plan to address a resident’s specific risk factors, and even more fail to put appropriate interventions in place to minimize the resident’s risk.
Oftentimes, when elderly people fall, they sustain serious, and often life-threatening. injuries such as broken legs and arms, fractured hips, and injuries to the head. In addition to causing severe pain and oftentimes requiring hospitalization and surgery, these injuries can leave them unable to walk and bedridden and may lead to pneumonia, and even death. The family is often left with many unanswered questions about how and why the fall occurred, whether the fall was preventable with proper care, and whether their loved one’s injury was due to neglect or abuse by the nursing home.
Call us now for a free consult to see if these standards were violated. Consulting with an attorney experienced in representing individuals who have been injured in nursing homes can help answer these important questions, and can advise you on your legal rights to hold the nursing home accountable.