When falls occur in nursing homes due to the failure of staff to keep the residents’ environments safe, victims or their families can hold the nursing home liable for the falls and the injuries that resulted. Families that choose nursing homes for their loved ones reasonably expect that they will receive the level of care they deserve. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that falls among nursing home residents often cause serious injuries because of their frail nature, and some even prove fatal.
Nursing home staff has an obligation to ensure each resident’s safety, and their failure to do so may constitute neglect. In these cases, a nursing home abuse lawyer can help victims and their families hold the facility accountable for the harm they caused.
Nursing Homes Must Maintain Safe Environments for Residents
42 U.S. Code § 1395i–3 details the establishment of safety regulations and quality care in skilled nursing facilities, which include nursing homes. The law states that facilities must provide care in a manner that maintains or enhances each resident’s quality of life and accommodates all of the resident’s needs. Additionally, nursing homes must have the design, construction, and all necessary equipment required to protect the health and safety of their residents.
If they adhere to these legal requirements, nursing homes can prevent falls and their subsequent injuries. By not maintaining a safe, healthy environment for their residents, facilities leave them susceptible to serious and even fatal injuries.
Dangers of Falls in Nursing Homes
The CDC reports that a typical nursing home with approximately 100 beds reports an average of 100 to 200 falls annually with residents often falling multiple times per year. Falls in nursing homes occur at twice the rate that older adults fall within the community, and over one-third of nursing home falls involve residents who cannot walk.
Up to 1 in 5 falls in nursing homes cause serious injuries to the victim, and nearly 2,000 suffer fatal injuries as a result of their falls each year. About one-quarter occur as a result of facility hazards, which may include:
- Wet floors
- Poor lighting
- Defective wheelchairs
- Incorrect bed height
Once an older adult has fallen once, their risk of falling again doubles.
Conditions That Increase Fall Risk
Older people often have more risk factors for falls, and a combination of these factors further increases an individual’s risk. Conditions that can lead to a fall may include:
- Weakness or limited mobility
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Vision problems
- Certain medications
- Environmental clutter
Doctors can help decrease the elderly’s risk of falling by recommending certain medications and supplements. Nursing home staff can also minimize these risks by providing assistance and resources where necessary.
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The Rights of Nursing Home Residents
In 1987, the Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA) established federal regulations to ensure adequate staffing and safety measures in nursing homes. It also outlined the comprehensive rights of residents, which may fall to the wayside if a facility does not adhere to federal and state requirements for sufficient care. When nursing home staff fail to minimize residents’ risk factors for a fall and an injury occurs, their negligence may warrant a lawsuit.
Nursing home residents have a right to freedom from all forms of abuse and neglect, the accommodation of their needs, and to be treated with dignity and respect. An attorney can help families who suspect or discover that nursing home negligence led to their loved one’s fall pursue financial recovery.
Reporting Nursing Home Falls
The academic text Improving the Quality of Care in Nursing Homes points out that states require inspections at least once a year to confirm nursing homes’ compliance with federal standards. When families notice signs that their loved one may not be receiving adequate care at their nursing home, they have a right to report these issues without the threat of retribution.
If your loved one fell in their nursing home, you deserve to know why and how the incident occurred. You can report any problems or concerns you have to the staff, who should address them as soon as possible. If they do not resolve the issue, you may wish to take it to the nursing home administration and inquire about the facility’s grievance procedure. You can also report the issue to your state licensure office or ombudsman agency for further investigation.
Regardless of their proactivity, families often find that they do not receive the answers they deserve. At any point during this process, they can seek the help of an attorney, who can communicate with the appropriate authorities on their behalf and hold the nursing home liable in court if necessary.
A Lawyer Can Help You File a Claim
Although nursing homes have an obligation to abide by state and federal guidelines to ensure the health and safety of their residents, instances of abuse and neglect often occur and can lead to serious or fatal injuries. However, victims and families can hold nursing homes liable for injuries such as falls. If your loved one suffered an injury as the result of a fall in a nursing home, our lawyers can help you seek just compensation. Call Ben Crump Law, PLLC today at (800) 959-1444 to discuss your case with our legal team.