Millions of senior citizens rely on nursing homes to provide much-needed medical care and help with tasks such as bathing and getting dressed. Many nursing homes follow through on their promises to senior citizens and their family members. Unfortunately, some nursing homes employ staff members who do not give residents the care they need and deserve.
When staff members are negligent, residents are more likely to fall, increasing the risk of fractures and other serious injuries. If your loved one sustains a nursing home fall in Maryland, it is important to take action immediately. A nursing home attorney can review your case and help you move forward.
Common Causes of Falls
As people age, they tend to have more problems with their balance, increasing the risk of falls. Some people also develop problems with their muscles and bones, making it more difficult to walk without falling. These are some of the most common causes of nursing home falls:
- Use Of Medications That Cause Drowsiness Or Dizziness
- Muscle Weakness, Especially In The Legs
- Foot Problems Related To Diabetes And Other Medical Conditions
- Environmental Hazards Such As Wet Floors, Poor Lighting, And Cluttered Walkways
- Difficulty Using Canes And Walkers
Wet floors and poor lighting are not the only environmental hazards present in a nursing home. Residents are more likely to fall when they have to use broken equipment, when some of their personal-care items are not safe for everyday use and when they are exposed to unsafe furniture and other objects. The following are just some of the hazards that may be present in a nursing home.
- Uneven Flooring
- Damaged Flooring (Broken Tiles, Loose Carpet)
- Beds With Unstable Wheels
- Wheelchairs With Broken Brakes
- Equipment With Missing Or Malfunctioning Parts
- Shelves And Cabinets That Cannot Be Reached Without Stretching
Not all of these risk factors can be eliminated, but with attentive staff members, they can be mitigated. For example, if a staff member notices that a resident’s wheelchair is not working correctly, he or she can take the broken equipment out of service and make sure the resident receives a working wheelchair. Attentive staff members can also remove physical hazards from hallways, wipe up spills and make sure residents know how to use their canes and walkers the right way.
In many facilities, staff members are aware of such hazards and take immediate action when a new hazard presents itself. Unfortunately, some nursing homes employ staff members who do not take the time to remove known hazards and prevent patients from falling. If your loved one fell due to the negligence of a staff member, a nursing home attorney can help you determine the best way to handle the situation.
Fall Prevention in Nursing Homes
Nursing home staff play an important role in preventing falls. In addition to educating patients, staff members are responsible for identifying potential risks and developing a plan to address those risks. Attentive staff members should do the following to reduce the risk of falls in their Maryland facilities:
- Conduct Medication Reviews To Determine Which Residents Are At The Highest Risk Of Falling Due To Medication Use
- Educate Residents On How To Reduce Their Risk Of Falls
- Help Residents Perform Exercises To Improve Their Balance And Coordination
- Ensure Residents’ Family Members Understand How To Prevent Falls When They Are Visiting Their Loved Ones.
- Treat Health Conditions That Are Known To Increase The Risk Of Falls
- Install New Equipment, Such As Handrails And Grab Bars, To Help Residents Get From One Place To Another Without Falling
- Conduct Regular Assessments To Determine If Each Resident’s Risk Of Falling Has Increased
Consequences of Nursing Home Falls
Falls have serious consequences for residents of nursing homes. Fractures are one of the most common injuries associated with nursing home falls. A serious fall can also lead to one or more of the following:
- Traumatic Brain Injuries Such As Concussion
- Spinal-Cord Injuries
- Sprains And Strains
Not only do falls cause serious injuries but they also make it difficult for residents to carry out their normal activities. After falls, some residents even develop a persistent fear of falling again, causing them to restrict their movements or avoid leaving their rooms. This leads to a reduced quality of life and may cause a resident to develop depression or anxiety. One of the most severe consequences of a nursing home fall is an increased risk of death.
Nursing Home Negligence Leading to Falls
One reason to file a nursing home abuse lawsuit is if your loved one sustained a fall due to the negligence of staff members. Negligence is defined as a person’s failure to exercise reasonable care. In a nursing home, negligence is a breach of a staff member’s duty to keep residents safe. Several types of negligence can lead to falls in a nursing home.
- Negligent Supervision
- Failure To Adhere To The Standard Of Care When Providing Medical Treatment
- Failure To Keep A Nursing Home Free Of Hazards
Staff members are responsible for supervising residents to ensure that they do not sustain injuries in falls or other accidents. When a staff member breaches this duty, it may result in a fall for one of the residents in his or her care. If the fall results in an injury, the resident’s family may decide to file a nursing home abuse lawsuit.
Inadequate treatment for medical conditions can increase a resident’s risk of nursing home falls. For example, if a diabetic does not receive proper treatment, he or she may develop foot ulcers or other foot problems that can make it difficult to walk. Administering high doses of sedatives or other medications may also increase the risk of falls by causing residents to feel sleepy, dizzy, lightheaded or unsteady on their feet.
If a staff member notices a physical hazard, he or she should take action immediately. In some cases, eliminating risk is as easy as wiping up a puddle on the floor or moving empty wheelchairs out of the hallway. When a hazard is more significant, the staff member should follow the facility’s process for reporting risks. This may entail alerting an administrator or filling out a maintenance request. A nursing home injury may occur if a staff member ignores this responsibility and takes no action to address a physical hazard.
Find a Maryland Nursing Home Falls Lawyer
If your loved one has sustained a fall in a nursing home, it is important to get advice from a qualified attorney. KBA Attorneys is ready to review your case and help you decide the best way to address the problem. Contact us today to receive a free case evaluation. Taking immediate action can prevent your loved one from sustaining additional injuries.