According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half of all traumatic brain injury-related hospitalizations result from falls. For adults over 65, falls are one of the leading causes of death, accounting for nearly 36,000 fatalities in one recent year alone. Annually, at least three million older adults go to emergency rooms for fall injuries like broken bones and head injuries.
Since falls are so common and yet so devastating for older individuals, you’d like to think that nursing homes and long-term care facilities would do everything possible to prevent those in their care from injury or death, including supervising people at risk for falls. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case.
“Older Americans are at a much higher risk of both falling and being injured as a result,” explains Hach & Rose, LLP partner John Blyth. “Nursing homes know this better than anyone, which is why they have a responsibility to carefully monitor any resident who might be a fall risk. And when they don’t, and someone gets hurt, my firm is committed to righting that wrong.”
Nursing Home Fall Prevention and Management
Nursing homes and long-term care facilities must safeguard residents from harm and injury, including protecting vulnerable individuals from falls. By law, New York nursing homes must use their resources effectively and efficiently to maintain or achieve their residents’ physical, psychosocial, and mental well-being. Often, that means identifying and addressing risks, especially in elderly residents who are vulnerable to falls. Older adults, especially nursing home residents, are particularly susceptible to falling because of a variety of factors, including lower body weakness, vision problems, the use of certain medications, coordination problems, and vitamin D deficiency.
A nursing home can take certain steps to ensure residents susceptible to falls have the proper tools and supervision they need to thrive in a safe and comfortable environment. In addition to adequate supervision, residents with ambulatory issues should always have assistive devices such as walkers, canes, or wheelchairs to navigate their space safely.
Barriers to Adequate Supervision for At-Risk Residents
Although nursing homes are required by law to provide a safe environment for their residents, they don’t always live up to this responsibility. Sometimes, a failure to supervise residents at risk of falling comes down to sheer carelessness and neglect in the moment. In other situations, inadequate staffing or resources can cause a breakdown in care and supervision, creating a long-term, pervasive risk of injury among residents.
Common causes of nursing home falls tend to include:
- Understaffing – Residents at risk of falling should constantly be monitored when walking or moving around. However, chronic understaffing can make proper supervision nearly impossible, leaving residents no choice but to move on their own without help or support from staff.
- Inadequate training or improper hiring practices – Staff members and nursing aides must be given the specific skills and knowledge to perform their jobs safely. Poor training or hiring practices can leave those staffers unequipped to protect the vulnerable residents placed in their care.
- Inadequate property maintenance – Nursing homes must keep their premises reasonably free from dangers such as slippery floors, poor lighting, and uneven walking surfaces. They must also maintain a reasonably safe environment free from hazards like torn rugs, uneven stairs, or missing handrails.
Failing to address the specific needs of older residents at risk for falling can be a form of nursing home neglect, which can have catastrophic physical and mental consequences.
Get Help from a New York Fall Accident Lawyer Today
Did your loved one suffer a fall-related injury because their nursing facility did not adequately supervise them? Then partner John Blyth and the rest of the team at Hach & Rose, LLP are standing by to help. Contact us today for a free consultation, and find out what our New York nursing home abuse lawyers can do for you and your family.