What Are the Statistics Regarding Nursing Home Falls?
According to the Nursing Home Abuse Center, nursing home residents have approximately twice the risk of falling as those who live in their own homes or with family. Between 50 percent and 75 percent of nursing facility residents fall each year, with as many as 20 percent of those falls causing serious injury. About six percent of nursing home falls will result in a serious fracture, while about 1,800 nursing home residents die from falls each year.
When an elderly person is seriously injured from a fall, they can also experience depression, further decline in mobility, and social isolation. Falls often result in “downward spirals,” of residents, and death is statistically more likely in the six months following such an event. While there are many different causes for falls, it’s important to be aware of all the possibilities when a nursing home is involved. A fall can easily be tied to other nursing home abuse or neglect symptoms, too.
Where do you turn? Ideally, an experienced legal professional in your community- an attorney you can trust to investigate the situation and advise you on your options moving forward. During a free consultation, the Noll Law Office personal injury attorneys will help you file a report with the appropriate licensing body which oversees the facility and work with you to help determine whether the facility is liable for the injuries.
How Are Falls Related to Other Nursing Home Abuse Symptoms?
A well-run nursing home should be able to prevent most falls. Most facilities have internal protocols and procedures to avoid falls. Nursing home residents are supposed to be given fall risk assessments, gaging what needs your loved one needs. Once the fall assessment is done, a care plan is created to address and prevent any falls that your loved one may be at risk for. This can include, but not be limited to, use of bed rails, having assistance of one or two staff members for movement, use of a walker or wheelchair, lift chairs, and many other sorts of options based on your loved one’s medical conditions, limitations, and abilities.
If your loved one has a history of multiple falls in the nursing home, look for other signs of abuse and neglect. These may include a general lack of care as well as unreasonable physical restraint. Is the resident being assisted and taken to the restroom or other grooming in a timely manner? Are they given special tread socks to prevent falling on sick floors? Where is their walker located and kept at? Fractures or head injuries can easily result from a fall caused by abuse or neglect. Unexplained wounds, welts, cuts or bruises can also result from a fall caused by abuse or neglect.
What Are the Causes and Conditions That Contribute to Nursing Home Falls?
The most common causes of nursing home falls include the following:
- Transferring—Transfers are a high-risk activity that can cause serious falls when the nursing staff is understaffed, lax, or untrained. Patient transfers from the bed to a wheelchair, toilet chair, walker, or into a standing position offer potential fall hazards when staff are not vigilant.
- Hazards–Falls can be caused by equipment in the hallways, or other hazards such as wet floors, beds that are too high, poorly maintained hoyer lifts and other equipment, or poor lighting.
- Prescriptions–Medications, especially sedatives and anti-anxiety drugs, may also increase the risk of falls, particularly within the first several days of taking a new medication. Nursing home residents must be watched carefully to prevent injury.
- Physical Abuse–Nursing home falls can be caused by deliberate physical abuse including hitting, kicking, slapping, and shoving an elderly patient.
What Are the Common Medical Complications of Falls?
The fall itself can cause head injuries, back and spinal cord injuries, broken bones, soft tissue injuries, hematomas, concussions, and severe cuts and bruises. If the resident is on blood thinners, severe injury can occur quickly. The resident should be immediately evaluated by nursing staff and examined, if necessary, at the nearest emergency room to rule out major problems. Oftentimes, residents suffer from dementia and other medical conditions that prevent them from reporting their symptoms, which is why a medical examination is absolutely necessary.
What Should I Do if a Loved One Exhibits Abuse or Neglect Symptoms?
Nursing home abuse or neglect is something few people are prepared for. We all want to assume the nursing home facility will do its job by protecting our loved ones. If you believe nursing home abuse has occurred, take immediate action. If you suspect nursing home abuse do the following:
- Immediately arrange for medical examination of the resident.
- Notify the applicable governmental agency for investigation, including but not limited to police agencies or the IDPH;
- Carefully document all signs and symptoms of abuse, and take photographs if you can.
- Question your loved one about the abuse when facility staff is not present.
- Gather any evidence that will help you prove the abuse.
- Contact an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer—by taking legal action you can hold the facility accountable while getting your loved one out of harm’s way.
How Do I Choose the Best Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer for Me?
It is important to have a skilled, local nursing home abuse lawyer that has experience in these types of cases. Your attorney will know how to review the evidence to determine if a lawsuit is warranted and hold the facility accountable.
The Noll Law Office is a central Illinois law firm that will help you through the legal process with compassion and care. Depending on the facts and circumstances surrounding the fall, your claim may involve violations of the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act, negligence, medical malpractice, wrongful death, breach of contract, fraud, negligent hiring, or other claim.
Do My Loved One’s Nursing Home Abuse Symptoms Mean I Have a Case?
Unfortunately, nursing home abuse and neglect symptoms often go unnoticed. It can often be difficult to know whether your loved one’s fall was the result of nursing home abuse or neglect, or simply a product of physical changes that occur with age. Watch your loved one carefully for any unexplained bruising, weight loss, abrasions on the wrists or ankles, bedsores, frequent infections, lack of hygiene, bone fractures, burn marks, or mismanagement of prescription medications. If the staff cannot explain any of these signs, you should report suspected abuse or neglect. You can also take a look at your loved one’s “care plan,” and make sure that it is being followed.
Emotional abuse can be even harder to identify. If you see your loved one withdrawing from interactions they once enjoyed, acting in a fearful manner towards certain nursing home staff, avoiding certain persons or areas of the facility, or becoming increasingly depressed without any known cause, you should question him or her about emotional abuse. Ask questions—if you do not get straightforward answers from your loved one or the staff, it could be time to speak to the applicable governmental authority in addition to a Springfield nursing home abuse lawyer from the Noll Law Office.
How Noll Law Office Can Help
If a fall has left you suspecting abuse or neglect, it’s time to speak the Noll Law Office. Their law firm is centrally located in Springfield, Illinois, and has experienced attorneys who will aggressively represent your case. You will work with an attorney directly, meeting with a lawyer on your first intake and onward. As fifth-generation central Illinois attorneys, their family will fight for yours offering compassionate counsel and honest, open communication. They will work by your side to ensure that those responsible for the abuse are held accountable and the injured person or their estate is properly compensated for their medical bills as well as pain and suffering. Contact the Noll Law Office today.