According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are currently more than 1.4 million people residing in nursing homes. By 2030, the CDC estimates that this number will rise to 3 million. It is incredibly important that nursing home residents feel safe and that their families and loved ones can rest assured that residents are protected, healthy, and cared for. Unfortunately, many nursing homes are understaffed. This means that individualized care and attention decreases with each added bed. In time, this may lead to neglect, causing problems including preventable falls. These falls are an unignorably large problem throughout the country.
The CDC states that each year, a typical nursing home with 100 beds reports between 100 and 200 falls. Falls can cause permanent disability and a greatly reduced quality of life, with 10% to 20% of nursing home falls causing serious injuries and 2% to 6% causing fractures. Even worse, 1,800 adults living in nursing homes die each year due to fall-related injuries.
Between half and three-quarters of nursing home residents fall each year, which is twice as often as elderly people residing outside of nursing homes. While nursing home residents comprise only 5% of the 65 and older age group, they account for 20% of deaths from falls in this bracket. This is in part due to the fact that people residing in nursing homes tend to be in more delicate condition, yet this statistic may also be partly attributable to neglect in nursing homes.
While some nursing home falls are unpreventable, a facility can take a number of precautions to avoid them. When a new resident is admitted to a nursing home, a staff member must take the time to assess the patient’s fall risk in order to take as many safeguards as possible. Some medications, including sedatives and anti-anxiety drugs, may make a resident more prone to falls, so staff should take special care to ensure the safety of patients on these medications. Additionally, a nursing home must be kept in good condition to protect the residents; hazardous conditions in nursing homes, such as wet floors, poor lighting, and incorrect bed height, cause 16% to 27% of falls.
The installation of grab bars, raised toilet seats, and hallway handrails make movement safer and easier for residents. In the case of a patient who is prone to falls, the nursing home may provide them with hip pads that would if needed, aid in the prevention of hip fractures. Additionally, mobility devices must be well maintained to ensure the safety of residents.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of nursing home neglect and has sustained an injury after a fall, the experienced nursing home abuse attorneys at Hach & Rose, LLP, can help you to determine your next course of action. Attorneys are available for a free consultation at (212) 779-0057.