Falls With Injury
In the United States there are over 1.3 million people living in nursing homes, and if you include assisted living, home care, adult day care, and other elder service providers, over 8 million elders are being served on any given day. Studies show that individuals under such care suffer more falls, and more fall-related injuries, than members of the general public of similar age. Falls under professional care should only happen under limited circumstances, so any injury-related fall should be investigated by a nursing home fall injury lawyer.
Under California law, a nursing home must conduct a comprehensive assessment of the new resident’s needs within 7 days of admission, including an evaluation of the risk of falling. The risk assessment will typically look for a history of falling within the past year, any impaired mobility or gait (and use of assistive devices), muscle weakness, altered mental status, and incontinence. The facility may also look at medications associated with falls, such as blood pressure drugs.
There is no question that nursing home falls are a serious problem. Every year, over 2,000 seniors living in nursing homes die from fall-related injuries. Those who survive, frequently suffer injuries that cause serious and permanent injury. Here at Southern California Nursing Home Law Group our attorneys found that roughly 25% of our wrongful death cases arise from falls inside the nursing home. While no two fall cases are exactly alike, we have seen commonalities:
- Resident who is a known fall-risk who frequently tries to get out of bed without asking for assistance.
- Resident who is continent of bladder and bowel but must wait too long for assistance after triggering the call light and tries to walk alone to the toilet.
- Resident who requires assistance with transfers, but too few (or too poorly trained) caregivers attempt to perform the transfer.
- Resident becomes restless after being left alone in a wheelchair for an extended period.
These are only a few situations where a nursing home or assisted living resident my end up on the floor, injured after a fall. But in each of these situations, the fall should have been prevented with proper care-planning and staffing. The failure to prevent it suggests neglect, and warrants a review by a qualified fall injury lawyer focusing on nursing homes.What Type of Injuries do Nursing Home Patients Suffer After Falls?
- Hip / Femur Fractures
By far, the most common injury we see in our cases are fractures of the hip and fractures of femoral head. This is not surprising consider the force of which elderly individuals might hit the floor, and because of preexisting frailties (and age) that would contribute to bones breaking. Hip and femur fractures can be problematic because they typically require surgery and extensive physical therapy, which sometimes is too much to ask of a person of advanced age. Not surprising, a majority of our hip/femur fracture cases end up in death.
- Head / Brain / Facial Injuries
Another serious (and too common) injury we see from nursing home or assisted living falls is head injuries, which often means a serious concussion and traumatic brain injury. In many cases, the falling elder is unable to lift his/her arms to block the head and face from the fall. As a result, the head is vulnerable to striking any object in its path, to often a piece of furniture in the room or the floor itself. Injuries to the head or brain can be the most serious and cause complications that are simply too much to overcome.
- Shoulder Fractures
For the same reasons head injuries occur, we have seen many fractures to arms and shoulders as a result of falls while under professional care. Though these injuries tend to be more easily treatable, and less “severe,” an arm or shoulder fracture can cause very serious mobility issues. Use of the arms for transferring, or using a walker, is vitally important, and having an arm that is unusable can render a patient bedbound.
If you suspect that a nursing home fall with injury was due to negligence or neglect, the nursing home fall injury lawyers at Southern California Nursing Home Law Group would be glad to talk to you. We know these cases and can let you know whether you have a viable case. Call (866) 607-1325 or fill out an online questionnaire.