Falls are some of the most devastating accidents that can occur in a nursing home. The results of these falls are often severe. From broken bones to traumatic brain injuries, nursing home falls have the potential to be deadly.
According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), there are nearly a dozen common factors that can lead to a fall in a nursing home. In many cases, these falls could be prevented if it were not for the administrators or staff’s negligence. Below, we review the main reasons for falls in nursing homes.
Existing Health Issues
Some residents of nursing homes live with an array of medical challenges and conditions. Some of these conditions can make a fall accident more likely. These existing health conditions are frequently a primary cause of falls in nursing homes.
Some of these health conditions involve the deterioration of health that occurs over time. In many cases, older nursing home residents experience changes in their gait and diminished strength. These issues can make mobility difficult.
Other medical conditions can dramatically impact a person’s balance or cause them to become light-headed, like hypertension, Parkinson’s, or Alzheimer’s. There is nothing a nursing home can do to eliminate the risks these conditions carry. However, a nursing facility and its staff should take necessary steps to ensure their residents with these conditions are monitored to avoid any fall accidents.
Drug Side Effects
The vast majority of nursing home residents are on some form of medication. Some residents take an array of drugs for multiple health conditions. Whether it is a side effect of a single drug or an interaction between many, it is not uncommon for residents to experience drug-related balance issues.
Other drugs could cause confusion or issues with a resident’s gait. Nursing home staff should minimize the use of these drugs and carefully monitor residents who require them as part of their daily care.
Understaffing is one of the primary drivers of negligence-related nursing home falls. Understaffing occurs when a nursing facility operates with fewer staff members than necessary. When caregivers are spread thin, the risk of a fall increases dramatically.
The worse an understaffing problem is, the longer a nursing home resident is likely to go without having their needs met. This can push residents with mobility issues to attempt to walk to the restroom or bathe without the nursing home staff’s assistance. These actions regularly result in dangerous falls.
Some facilities lack the proper equipment necessary to prevent falls. This includes equipment related to everything from beds to flooring. For example, nursing home beds that lack side rails or safety bumpers could increase patients’ odds of falling to the floor in the night.
The lack of handrails in a hallway could increase the odds of a fall. Even the footwear allowed or provided by the nursing home could play a role in a fall if it is not made with traction in mind. This lack of equipment falls squarely on the owners and administrators of a nursing home and without it, they could face civil liability for any falls that occur.
Lacking a Fall Prevention Plan
Every nursing home facility should have a comprehensive fall prevention plan. These plans should cover the placement of vital safety equipment like guard rails and bed alarms. Additionally, it should include steps to take to ensure nursing home staff understand how to monitor residents and prevent dangerous falls.
These plans are meaningless without appropriate training, however. In fact, inadequate staff training, in general, can play a role in many fall accidents. If the facility never trains its staff on the steps necessary to prevent falls, the owners and administrators could face blame for any injuries that occur following an accident.
Discuss Your Loved One’s Nursing Home Fall Accident with a Lawyer
If your loved one has suffered a fall in a nursing home, they could have a strong claim for monetary compensation. From identifying the main reasons for a nursing home fall to developing a theory of liability, your attorney could build your claim from the ground up. If you are ready to discuss your family’s legal options, contact us at (702) 633-3333 for a free consultation.