Nursing Home Falls: Prevention and Reporting

Nursing Home Falls: Prevention and Reporting

Try as we might to avoid them, there are inescapable physical changes that happen to us as we age. One of the hardest to handle is delayed wound healing. Elderly bodies simply take longer to repair themselves. That’s why it’s so important for seniors to take precautions against hazards such as falling, which can result in broken bones, severe abrasions, concussions, permanent disabilities and even death.

The statistics are alarming:

  • About one third of people over age 65 experience falls each year, and that number increases to half for those 80 years and above.
  • Once an older person falls, they are two to three times more likely to fall again.
  • Falls are the leading cause of death due to injury among the elderly.
  • Almost 90 percent of all fractures in the elderly are due to falls.
  • Falls account for one-quarter of all hospital admissions and 40 percent of all nursing home admissions. Of those admitted, two-fifths do not return to independent living and 25 percent die within a year.
  • Almost half of those who aren’t injured in a fall require assistance to get back on their feet. The longer they are immobile, the more likely they are to suffer complications such as pressure sores, dehydration, hypothermia, and pneumonia.

Not suffering a physical injury in a fall doesn’t mean a person gets away unscathed. Instead, many older people who have close calls develop a fear of falling that causes them to limit their activities, which, in turn, can lead to reduced muscle tone and an increased risk of falling.

Although nursing home residents may be predisposed to falling due to frailty or disability, a facility’s staff often contributes to a fall by failing to follow proper standards of care. They may fail to perform the required assessments to protect vulnerable adults from fall-related injuries, to maintain a clean and safe premises, or to provide consistent supervision of patients who may be at risk for suffering from falls. Specific manifestations of nursing home abuse or neglect include:

  • Abrupt changes in medication
  • Call buttons not available, operational, or within reach
  • Failure to provide glasses
  • Improper or incorrect use of walking aids
  • Improperly fitted or maintained wheelchairs
  • Inadequate supervision
  • Inadequately trained staff, insufficient staff
  • Incorrect bed height
  • Poor lighting
  • Shoes that fit poorly or have non-grip soles
  • Weak muscles due to negligent care
  • Wet floors.

In addition to addressing these issues, a thorough falls risk assessment should be conducted on the first day of admission, and strategies to mitigate any identified risks should be implemented – and reassessed. Falls that result from abuse, mistreatment, or care plan violations should be reported to the long-term care ombudsman or the Georgia Department of Community Health.

While it is not possible to prevent all falls in a nursing home, appropriate care significantly reduces the frequency of falls and the severity of related injuries. If you or someone you love has suffered fall-related injuries, or if you have any questions about this topic, you can find out more by discussing it with one of the Georgia nursing home fall attorneys at The Mann Law Firm. We have over 50 years of experience helping people, and we can help you. Based in Macon, we know that many nursing home falls are due to the negligent actions of staff. Contact us to discuss your unique situation by calling 1-855-507-7598 or by filling out our online form.